Dual April storm events cause over $123 million in Ohio insured losses

FOR RELEASE: May 25, 2011

April will likely be known as one of the most active and destructive months for severe weather in US history. What may come as a surprise is that Ohio sustained a sizeable share of insured losses from two separate April storm events.

Preliminary losses in Ohio from the pair of storms are estimated at over $123 million from 23,600 claims. April 19-20 high winds, tornadoes and hail in Ohio caused at least $43 million in insured losses, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII) with over 8,100 claims filed to-date. Just two days later, the April 22-28 outbreak affecting Ohio along with a dozen other states caused at least $80 million in insured losses with 15,500 claims statewide, according to preliminary estimates from Property Claim Services. Storm loss estimates don’t include flood insurance-related losses.

According to data from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), there were 875 preliminary tornado reports in April. The final count will likely approach or supersede the all-time monthly record of 542 tornadoes once all storm surveys are completed. SPC notes that many of April’s tornadoes have been rated weak (EF-0 and EF-1) due to improved detection and verification methodologies currently employed by the National Weather Service. Click here for Information about the enhanced Fujita scale.

“This has been an unusually harsh quarter for storms across the US,” said Daniel J. Kelso, OII president. “We’re seeing estimated losses from the April 22–April 28 severe thunderstorm outbreak in the $3.7 billion to $5.5 billion range alone, not including other weather-related disasters.”

According to Kelso, Ohio was part of four major disasters during the first quarter, two in February and the two in April. Click here for Ohio’s February storm summary. Click here for a history of Ohio wind and hailstorms through Spring 2011.

PCS April 19-20 storm recap
According to Property Claim Services, the earlier April storm affected eight states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. Hail, tornadoes and high winds were reported from this event. The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed that 12 tornadoes touched down across Ohio on April 20 ranging from weak ones (EF0) to an EF2 with winds up to 120 mph touching down near Granville. Provided are storm details from NWS-Wilmington and NWS-Cleveland.

OII April 19-20 storm survey results
24 property/casualty insurance companies participated in the OII April 19-20 storm survey. They represent about 70 percent of Ohio’s personal auto market, about 68 percent of the homeowners’ insurance market and nearly 27 percent of Ohio’s commercial lines market based on 2009 Ohio premium volume. Insurance company estimates ranged from no losses to nearly 2,750 claims. Losses reported by companies varied from none to over $15 million.

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

OII preliminary April storm loss estimates (based on information from 24 P/C insurers)
• Claim estimates: 8,127
• Homeowners: 7,436             • Auto: 314             • Business: 377
• Loss estimates: $42.6 million
• Homeowners: $36.2 million   • Auto: $690,000    • Business: $6.1 million

Nine out of every 10 claims reported to-date pertain to homeowners or renters insurance. The storms caused some power outages, and included losses such as backup of sewers and drains and roof, gutter and interior wall damage from water, and wind damage.

April 23-28 storm recap
Thunderstorms, high and flash flooding were reported primarily across the southern part of Ohio on April 23, according to NWS-Wilmington reports. Similar weather patterns affected primarily the SW quadrant of the state on April 27-28, according to reports from NWS-WilmingtonClick here for AIR Worldwide (AIR) US loss estimates.

Common losses and coverage
Most property damage related to wind and rain are covered by insurance, with the exception of flooding. Backup of sewers and drains may be covered through a separately-purchased 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. NFIP’s agent referral program is available at www.floodsmart.gov or call 888-CALL-FLOOD for coverage assistance.

Common storm-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 or high winds 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.
• Property damage from hail, high winds and flying debris: Damage caused by high winds, tornadoes and hail are covered by homeowners, renters and commercial insurance policies. Homes or belongings damaged as a result of a fallen tree – whether it is your tree or a neighbor’s tree – are covered under your homeowners insurance policy.

Ohio storm histories
Click here for a history of Ohio wind and hailstorms through Spring 2011. Click here for a history of Ohio winter storms.

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 tip sheet.

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.

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Resources
Property Claim Services
NFIP’s Flood Smart online agent locator
OII winter storm history
OII wind and hail storm history
OII’s home repair tips
AIR Worldwide (AIR) US storm estimates