Texas Had Costliest U.S. Cat Losses in First Half of 2015: PCS

July 22, 2015

Texas had the most catastrophe losses in the United States during the first half of 2015, according to a new report on North American cat losses during the first six months of the year.

Seventeen second-quarter catastrophe events in North America led to $5.3 billion in insured losses, according to Property Claim Services (PCS), a Verisk Analytics business. First-half catastrophe losses came to $8.1 billion from 26 events, with Texas experiencing the highest cat losses of any state.

PCS published its full North American catastrophe summary in Barely a Whisper: PCS Q2 2015 Catastrophe Review, a report available to users of the loss aggregation service.

First-half losses represent a 36 percent year-over-year decline from 2014’s U.S. total of $12.6 billion, making it the lightest catastrophe first half since 2010. The 10-year U.S. average fell to $10.4 billion as a result. However, total catastrophe losses for the first half of 2015 could go higher, with estimates pending for three North American events (two in the United States and one in Canada).

In the United States, PCS designated 25 catastrophe events in the first half of 2015, representing a 20 percent increase in frequency despite a 36 percent decline in severity. Only one event caused more than $1 billion in insured losses, compared with five in the first half of 2014.

Texas was the state most affected by catastrophes, sustaining slightly more than $2 billion in insured losses. The month of May was particularly harsh in the state, with all kinds of violent and deadly weather, including hail storms, an unusually high number of tornadoes, high winds, torrential rains and massive flooding.

“One storm after another blasted Texas from late March through early June,” said Mark Hanna, spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas. “We had no shortage of hailstorms, tornadoes and flooding. These numbers verify that our spring thunderstorm season was costly.”

A deadly tornado that blasted the East Texas town of Van on May 10 left behind an estimated $40 million in damage.

Massachusetts followed at just under $1 billion, largely the result of seven winter storm events that occurred in the first quarter. Oklahoma and Missouri had catastrophe losses of $620 million and $460 million, respectively.

Like Massachusetts, New York remains in the top five for the first half because of first-quarter winter storm activity. With the Atlantic Basin quiet once again, Florida is not among the top ten. In all, first-half events affected 27 states in 2015 – up from 24 for the same period a year ago.

For the first half of 2015, PCS declared only one Canadian catastrophe event, which came late in the second quarter, a wind and thunderstorm event that affected Alberta and Saskatchewan, causing insured losses of C$56 million. Last year, two events in Canada caused insured losses of C$140 million. One affected Ontario, and the other Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“We’ve been closely watching the trend toward smaller, more frequent catastrophes,” said Joe Louwagie, assistant vice president, PCS. “For claims departments across North America, this may have implications for catastrophe response planning, and the claims community should remain vigilant: Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma followed the quietest first half in the past ten years.”

Source: Verisk Analytics, Insurance Council of Texas

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