Insurers Not Seeing Large Number of Claims From Snowstorm So Far

February 13, 2013

A fierce winter storm brought deep snow and high gusting winds to the Northeast last weekend, but a number of insurers are saying that so far, they are not seeing a large number of claims.

State Farm said Tuesday the company has not yet seen a large number of claims to-date from the weekend storm. “Our claims department is reporting less than 100 and they are being handled through our regular claims processing procedures,” State Farm spokesperson Arlene Lester told Insurance Journal.

Meanwhile, Arbella Insurance Group, a Quincy, Mass.-based carrier providing personal and business insurance in the New England region, said the company does not expect last weekend’s snowstorm to reach the same level of impact as the other extreme weather events that occurred in New England in 2011 and 2012.

The National Weather Service reported snowfall totals of more than 24 inches in Boston from the Feb. 8-9 winter storm. Photo: Wikimedia/V4711

“While Arbella was prepared to handle whatever Nemo had in store for our customers, early losses reported are much lower than what we experienced with the prior events. So far, Arbella has received approximately 500 claims across all of our lines of business,” said Tracy Hurley, vice president of claims at Arbella Insurance. She said that most damage appears to be related to wind and fallen trees on homes and cars.

She said a number of precautionary measures may have helped to lower losses. “The volume of storm warnings, early business closures and driving bans kept many cars off the roads during the storm. This preparedness has gone a long way in reducing the number of auto accidents reported,” Arbella’s Hurley said.

At Montpelier, Vt.-based Union Mutual of Vermont Companies, CEO John Fitzhugh said that as of Tuesday, his companies had 121 claims reported. The Union Mutual of Vermont Companies offer personal and commercial insurance and write about 100,000 policies throughout New England.

“This is less than what was reported at the same time after Superstorm Sandy, even though we do not write in New York or New Jersey,” CEO Fitzhugh said. “The claims range from freeze-ups, trees down over property, water backups, power surge and a few food spoilage and snow collapse claims.”

But, he added, “I fear to say the claims are light, because some people may be too busy digging out and getting back to work to have thought about reporting damage to their agents.”

At the same time, he said, “the snow was very light — in Maine for instance — and the wind blew it off structures. Rain Monday in Southern New England may exacerbate the weight of snow on structures; we will have to see. Regarding possible ice dams, the fact that things are warming up now in Southern New England may help avoid those types of claims.”

At Utica National Insurance Group in New Hartford, N.Y., spokesman Stephen Kukowski said the company “has experienced a very low volume of claims activity related to Winter Storm Nemo.” Claims have been mostly residential and include both auto and property, he said.

Kukowski said this low volume of claims activity can likely be attributed to good advanced planning by public officials and preparations by individuals and businesses, which ultimately helped minimize the damage to property.

At The Travelers Companies, spokesman Matt Bordonaro said that while it is too early to tell, the company is responding to those who have experienced damage as a result of this storm.

“Travelers is communicating with customers on ways to help prevent property damage considering the amount of snow and now rain impacting some areas,” he said. “Reducing snow loads on roofs and taking steps to help prevent ice dams are some steps that may help prevent damage from occurring.”

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