Kan. Insurance Claims Drop Despite Massive Storms

February 4, 2008

A tornado wiped out 95 percent of Greensburg. Hailstorms rattled the south-central part of the state, damaging roofs. An ice storm crippled the state.

With all the large-scale weather events to hit Kansas last year, it would seem likely that insurance claims and estimated losses would have gone up.

Instead, those numbers went down.

The Kansas Insurance Department recently released its 2007 Kansas estimated storm losses, showing 101,000 fewer claims and $69.2 million less in estimated losses from the previous year.

The insurance department doesn’t report flood claims or losses, but FEMA showed that, as of Nov. 30, there were 641 flood insurance claims, representing $16.1 million in damage _ putting the total still well below 2006 numbers.

The reason for the drop had to do, in part, with the number of storms from one year to the next; while there were larger-scale events in 2007, the previous year had more storms that spread damage throughout the year.

Despite the annual decline, 2007 did have the worst month in Kansas history for property damage. The month included 18,590 claims and $230 million in estimated storm losses, with more than half of that stemming from the May 4 tornado that wiped out most of Greensburg.

Even with the decline from one year to the next, 2007 still ranks as one of the worst years over the past decade, generating the third-largest year for monetary losses since 1997.

Now, the big question is whether the increase in storm damages will hike up insurance rates. Bob Hanson, public information officer for the insurance department, doesn’t think so _ at least not yet.

“There hasn’t been a particular rise in anything we’ve noticed so far,” he said. “It seems like it takes a couple of years before those numbers get into systems and are used to do rate analysis.”


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