Kentucky Ice Storm Death Toll at 35; Early Losses at $130 Million

February 13, 2009

Kentucky officials say the Jan. 27 storm that blanketed the region with ice and snow has taken 35 lives. About 769,000 customers lost power at its peak, and almost 50,000 are still without power.

The state has received a major disaster declaration from President Barack Obama. More than 100 counties and 75 cities have declared states of emergency.

As power is restored and the damage is uncovered, property owners are beginning to file insurance claims.

According to Gary Kerney, assistant vice president for Property Claim Services at ISO, the preliminary estimated damage for Kentucky is $130 million based on the information received to date.

“There are still many areas that do not have power restored and it is anticipated that this figure will increase after the power is restored and people are able to return to their homes and assess the damages. In addition to damages caused by the weight of the ice and snow, it is anticipated that ‘power outage’ claims will represent a significant portion of the losses,” Keney stated.

Ronda Sloan, spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Insurance, said it’s too early to have any total claims figures. “Many of the companies were reporting 1,000 to 2,000 claims each while some of the larger insurers had over 10,000 each. However, we don’t have any firm totals at this time,” she told Insurance Journal.

Some Kentuckians may find their damage is not insured, she noted.

“We are hearing that most claims at this point are relatively minor. Many will not be insured losses. We’ve heard of some roof damage from ice dams, damage from frozen pipes, damage from the weight of ice and snow, trees falling on covered structures or cars, etc. Also, things like food spoilage that may not be covered,” Sloan said.

Thus far, the DOI has only had two complaints about ice storm claims. “Our complaint volume usually rises a month or more out from a disaster so we anticipate that number rising in the next few weeks,” she said.

As for the government’s cleanup efforts, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the federal government would reimburse Kentucky 75 percent of the cost for the National Guard’s response.

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