Late Spring Storms Slam the Midwest

By | June 21, 2004

The storms and tornado systems of late spring have once again struck cities and towns across the Midwest, with an estimated $63 million in insured damages announced by the time this magazine went to press. That estimate represents the total of the only two insurers to announce estimates so far.

Worcester, Mass.-based Allmerica Financial, whose subsidiary Citizens Insurance is a leading carrier in Michigan, announced $13 million in losses during the May 20-27 storms in the Wolverine State for a total of $16 million for the quarter to date. Meanwhile, Cincinnati Financial Corp. (CFC) estimated losses of about $50 million thanks to “three periods of severe weather between May 17 and May 31.” CFC said policyholders in 18 Midwestern and mid-Atlantic states were affected. Both companies said the estimated storm losses were well within their quarterly and yearly targets for catastrophic damages.

From Hallam, Neb., to Marengo, Ind., nearly two solid weeks of thunderstorms and tornadoes ravaged the Midwest. In Marengo, the storm destroyed at least 50 homes and later tore the roof of an Indianapolis nursing home while 50 residents were inside, according to an Associated Press report.

Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns said the storms caused at least $100 million in damage, including about $70 million in damage to homes, business and farm buildings as well as about $12 million in damage to public property. Steve Witmuss, the regional claims vice president for Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance told the Omaha World Herald that his company expected about $10 million in losses thanks to the storms.

Meanwhile, Missouri has already requested federal assistance and Wisconsin is taking the first steps to doing so. Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, requested assistance for the Missouri counties of Cass, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Grundy, Linn, Livingston, Macon and St. Clair. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle asked the federal government to conduct a preliminary damage assessment to see whether any areas of the state could qualify for federal assistance.

As in The Wizard of Oz, Kansas too was struck by heavy, frightful winds. But there was no happy ending with Auntie Em in this real-life tale, which caused two separate accidents on Interstate 70 in northwest Kansas. According to the AP, the high winds cut the visibility of a tractor-trailer, which rear-ended a car driven by Republican State Sen. Stan Clark. Clark was killed in the accident.

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Insurance Journal West June 21, 2004
June 21, 2004
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