Record-Low Washington Temperatures Lead to High Number of Claims

December 17, 2009

Washington’s recent cold snap that brought frigid temperatures from Dec. 7 thorugh Dec. 13, will be among state’s top six severe cold-weather events of the past 25 years, based on claims dollars of around $4.3 million projected to be paid, according to Washington-based insurer PEMCO Insurance.

The rash of claims should rank the event behind only five previous cold-weather events: snowstorms of Dec. 26-30, 1996 ($15.2 million); Dec. 18, 1990 ($7.5 million); Dec. 17 – Jan. 10, 2009 ($7.1 million); Feb. 1-10, 1985 ($6.7 million); and Feb. 1, 1989 ($4.7 million), the insurer said. The freeze also could break into Washington’s top-10 weather events of any kind, which includes major windstorms.

As of Dec. 15, PEMCO Insurance had received 244 claims related to the cold weather, mostly for frozen and burst water pipes. Cold-weather claims continue to trickle in but are expected return to near-normal by the end of the week. However, some claims might not be reported for weeks, with people on vacation and owners of second homes being unaware of damage until they return, the insurer said. Also, boats might have suffered freezing damage that won’t be detected until spring.

PEMCO has tracked data since 1984 for claims related to snow, cold, and windstorms, plus events like earthquakes, wildfires, and heavy rain. The company ranks these events based on the number of claims and gross paid loss amount, which is recalculated into inflation-adjusted dollars. Data for storms before 1984 is less comprehensive. To view the storm index, visit

Source: PEMCO

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