Polar Vortex likely to cost insurers billions this year

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  • Over the past few months, almost the entire East Coast and parts of the Upper Midwest has occasionally been in the grip of the infamous Polar Vortex, which has delivered frigid temperatures and brutal winter weather that led to significant insurance claims for all kinds of coverage, including auto and home insurance. This kind of issue may still rear its head a few more times before the warmer weather arrives, and insurance agents will certainly need to be aware of this fact so that they can be in a position to help policyholders as quickly and easily as possible.

    New data suggests that the cost of the initial impact of the Polar Vortex – which was observed from Jan. 5-8 – seems to have already risen to $1.5 billion for those three days alone, according to a report from Artemis. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country reported having been financially impacted by the severe weather in some way.

    “The high catastrophe frequency of 2013 has continued into this year,” Joe Louwagie, assistant vice president of Property Claim Services, which released the information, told the site. “We’ve already designated four catastrophe events in the United States – the biggest being the Polar Vortex from January 5-8, 2014. For this event alone, the PCS preliminary estimate is above $1.5 billion from more than 160,000 claims. We continue to develop estimates for each of the four catastrophes we’re currently tracking.”

    Other issues linger, with big price tag
    Just a few days earlier, another storm that swept across the country did an estimated $150 million in damage, which was not factored into the Polar Vortex’s $1.5 billion, the report said. These two issues alone, which didn’t even bring the industry into mid-January, cost nearly as much as the estimated $2 billion in winter storm claims losses recorded by the Insurance Information Institute for the entirety of the season in 2013 alone. Moreover, the average value of all combined winter weather claims recorded from 1993 to 2012 came to just $1.4 billion annually.

    Insurance agents will certainly have to keep in mind just how severely their clients could wind up being affected by such issues, and move to do as much as possible for them when they do suffer damage to their homes or other property. Winter weather can lead to everything from glass cracked by temperatures well below zero to snow bringing down tree branches onto cars or homes.