Late February storms cause over $68.9 million in Ohio insurance claims

FOR RELEASE: April 7, 2011
FOR INFORMATION: Dean Fadel: 614.228.1593

Late February storms cause over $68.9 million in Ohio insurance claims

A late February deluge that brought several inches of rain to parts of Ohio and significant flood, wind and water-related losses caused at least $68.9 million in insured losses, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII). Nearly 15,900 claims have been filed to-date across the state. Preliminary loss estimates, which don’t include flood insurance-related losses, are expected to rise over the next few months as additional property damage is detected.

About this storm
Heavy rains and thunderstorms moved across Ohio overnight on February 27-28 as 3-4 inches of rain accumulated over a 24-hour period in already saturated areas across northern Ohio. This system exited the state and a second wave of precipitation moved through southern Ohio. Warm temperatures, heavy snow pack and snow melt resulted in moderate to major flooding in parts of the state. According to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency near-record flooding was recorded on the Cuyahoga River at Independence along with major flooding on the Scioto River at Larue and Prospect. At one point, flood warnings were in effect for 47 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

One weather-related fatality was confirmed in Huron County. A woman from North Fairfield was swept away in her car by floodwaters on February 28. An EF1 tornado near Millersport in Fairfield County was confirmed by the NWS on the 28th.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an SBA-only disaster declaration for Auglaize and Marion counties as a result of flooding and flash flooding. The SBA disaster declaration included the contiguous counties of Auglaize: Allen, Darke, Hardin, Logan, Mercer, Shelby and Van Wert; and the contiguous counties of Marion: Crawford, Delaware, Hardin, Morrow, Union and Wyandot. An SBA declaration enables residents and businesses in Auglaize and Marion counties, as well as those in the contiguous counties who incurred uninsured losses resulting from theses severe storms (February 27 – March 8) to apply for long-term, low-interest loans.

According to Property Claim Services, the late February storm affected five states: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. Hail, tornadoes, high winds and flooding were reported with total losses estimated at $160 million.

Survey results
24 property/casualty insurance companies participated in the OII storm survey. They represent 68 percent of Ohio’s personal auto market, about 78 percent of the homeowners’ insurance market and nearly 30 percent of Ohio’s commercial lines market based on 2009 Ohio premium volume. Insurance company estimates ranged from no losses to nearly 3,000 claims. Losses reported by companies varied from none to nearly $19 million.

“Not all insurance companies are represented by this survey so actual losses will likely be higher than our initial estimates,” said OII President Daniel J. Kelso. “Also, some insurers weren’t able to provide Ohio-specific data.”

OII preliminary late February winter storm loss estimates (based on information from 24 P/C insurers)
Claim estimates: 15,878
• Homeowners:  14,589  • Auto: 691  • Business: 598
Loss estimates: $68.9 million
• Homeowners: $63.7 million • Auto: $1.7 million • Business: $3.4 million

Nearly 93 percent of the losses reported to-date pertain to homeowners or renters insurance. The storms caused some power outages, and included losses such as back-up of sewers and drains and roof, gutter and interior wall damage from water.

About 2 percent of the losses pertain to auto insurance, most due to flooding. Commercial losses based damages represent about 5 percent of the overall losses so far.

Common losses and coverage
Most property damage related to wind and rain are covered by insurance, with the exception of flooding. Back up of sewers and drains are typically covered through a policy endorsement. Deductibles apply to auto, homeowners and commercial claims. OII recommends obtaining repair estimates prior to filing a claim if you suspect the damage is close to your deductible.

Damage from flooding is excluded from every homeowners/renters and business insurance policy. Flood insurance coverage normally can be purchased through a separate policy for homes and businesses. Coverage is separate for the building (structure) and its contents. Licensed property/casualty insurance agents can sell flood insurance. Learn about NFIP’s agent referral program at or call 888-CALL-FLOOD for coverage assistance.

Common water-related covered perils include:
• Power failure: Damage from burst pipes from a power failure is covered by most homeowners insurance policies. While homeowners policies differ, food spoilage is normally excluded if the cause of loss is an off-premises power outage. Limited coverage may be added by endorsement (coverage usually up to $500).
• Vehicle coverage: Vehicles damaged by flooding are normally covered under the “other-than-collision” (also known as “comprehensive”) portion of an auto insurance policy. This is optional coverage that protects insured vehicles in situations other than a collision or overturn.
• Basement water backup: Coverage for water backup in basements (drains/sewers) is excluded from flood insurance and most homeowners insurance policies. However, this coverage is available by endorsement on many homeowners insurance policies. Check with your insurance provider as details and coverage varies by company.
• Damage from ice dams and/or frozen pipes: Roof and gutters are typically affected by ice and snow accumulations. Damage to interior walls and floors are also covered by either peril.

Ohio winter storm history
Ohio winter storm information is available online. This includes previous storm loss surveys conducted by OII.

Repair tips
OII urges Ohioans to consider hiring licensed Ohio contractors to repair damages.

“Ultimately, homeowners are responsible for the roofer or home contractor of their choice. We caution them to check for proper licensing, references and referrals to help prevent problems down the road,” said Kelso.

Expenses incurred when taking measures to protect against further damage (such as placing plastic over a damaged roof, covering windows to prevent further water damage, etc.) are usually reimbursable under homeowners insurance. OII advises saving these receipts for claims filing.

To protect against the possibility of contractor fraud, OII provides a home repair tipsheet.

OII is a trade association representing insurance companies and agent groups for Ohio’s property/casualty industry. Its main objective is to increase understanding of insurance and related safety issues.


Property Claim Services
NFIP’s Flood Smart online agent locator
OII’s winter storm history
OII’s home repair tips