P/C Insurers Expect to Pay $5.8B for Insured Property-Loss Catastrophe Losses

February 14, 2003

U.S. property/casualty insurers are expected to pay an estimated $5.8 billion in insured property-loss claims from catastrophes last year, making 2002 the fourth-lowest year in losses in the last 10, according to preliminary estimates by Insurance Services Office, Inc.’s (ISO) Property Claim Services (PCS) unit.

The full-year loss figure could change in the coming weeks as PCS is currently re-surveying its estimates for several catastrophes. The ISO unit typically resurveys catastrophe losses after it issues preliminary estimates if losses exceed $250 million or specific circumstances of a catastrophe require more comprehensive appraisal and additional analysis.

Six catastrophes struck 23 states in the fourth quarter, causing an estimated $1.7 billion in losses — the second-highest loss for any fourth quarter in the last 10 years. PCS estimates that insurers received nearly 540,000 claims from homeowners and businesses in the quarter, which accounts for the highest number of claims in any fourth quarter since 1998.

Catastrophe losses in 2002 were 50 percent below the 10-year average for insured-property losses of $11.5 billion per year, PCS’s year-end analysis shows. Last year’s 25 catastrophes were also well below the 32-events-per-year average of the last 10 years.
Insured-property losses from catastrophes were the lowest in 1997 at $2.6 billion, followed by $4.6 billion in 2000 and $5.6 billion in 1993.

In 2002, 40 states sustained insured-property damage from catastrophes. Kentucky led with $885 million in losses, followed by Texas with $630 million, Louisiana with $555 million, Maryland with $289 million, and Ohio with $275 million.

The full year recorded 25 natural disasters that produced 1.8 million claims — the third highest in claims in the past five years.

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