A massive blizzard, unofficially named Winter Storm Jonas by the Weather Channel, swept through the East Coast over the Jan. 23-24 weekend. The storm brought heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions to much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.
But as the insurance industry begins to take stock, a number of insurance agencies said losses have been relatively light for their clients so far.
AHT Insurance, an independent agency based in Leesburg, Virginia, said the blizzard doesn’t appear to have caused major damage for its clients.
“Thankfully, Winter Storm Jonas caused relatively insignificant activity for AHT clients. Due to the above-average temperatures following the storm, we did not experience widespread problems with ice dams,” Rob Renner, vice president for AHT’s Private Client Services division, said on Feb. 1.
“Aside from a few small agriculture building collapses, the snow melted fast enough to avoid any major property damage,” Renner said.
USI Northeast Senior Vice President Frank Scott also said on Feb. 1 that in the Northeast region which covers New York and New Jersey, “while we have seen some damage and a couple of roof collapses in the region, at this point our commercial clients have not had any claims.”
Aon Risk Solutions’ U.S. Property Practice Leader Rick Miller said that “while having a significant economic and human impact, Winter Storm Jonas will not be a significant insurance event.”
“The snow totals may have been historic in some areas, but warm temperatures following the storm aided in a quick snow melt,” Miller said. Another factor mitigating the storm’s impact was the timing of the storm over a weekend resulting in limited business impact, he said.
Hub International Northeast added that on the commercial side, losses related to Jonas have been “very light.”
“We have seen some awning collapses and slip and falls. We would definitely not consider this a major storm from a claims perspective,” Michael Abreu, senior vice president, Claims Management, HUB Northeast, said on Feb. 1.
Hub Northeast said that overall, its personal insurance claims exposure has been concentrated to flood damage in coastal New Jersey – the most severe damage seen in the Cape May County and minimal damage in Ocean and Monmouth Counties – and a few wind-related losses.
“We have not been presented with snow and ice-related personal insurance claims yet, such as roof collapse or ice damage, but weather has been relatively mild for the most part,” said Scott J. Congiusti, assistant vice president, Personal Insurance Claims Director, HUB Northeast.
“After dealing with Superstorm Sandy, our clients were well-prepared and many chose to elevate their homes, so risk of loss was greatly reduced for this storm,” Congiusti said.
Reinsurance broker Aon Benfield said on Jan. 25 that Jonas is likely to cause multi-billion dollar economic losses in total. The broker compared Jonas to a similar storm system from January 1996, which caused an estimated economic loss of $4.6 billion and insured loss of $920 million in current dollar terms.
Aon Benfield Associate Director Steve Bowen said on Feb. 1 that given the broad size and scope of impacts from the blizzard, it is expected that insurers will be facing insured losses in “the hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“This includes losses incurred by private insurers and claims filed through the National Flood Insurance Program given coastal flooding,” Bowen said.
In addition, some claims such as business interruption claims would take more time to evaluate in coming days.
“It remains to be seen whether the final total will approach the cost from the January 1996 event, but it bears worth repeating that this is not an unmanageable event for the insurance industry,” he said.
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