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Winter weather costs US insurers $475 million

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Severe weather outbreaks caused at least $475 million in insured losses in the United States in January, with total economic losses surpassing $1 billion.

A series of thunderstorms and tornadoes caused total economic losses estimated at about $250 million, with about $175 million in public and private insurance losses, in several Southeast and Plains states during Jan. 1-3, according to a report by Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield Group Ltd.’s catastrophe model development team, released on Wednesday. 

At least 130 tornadoes touched down in the month of January — the highest number of January tornadoes since 1999, when 212 tornadoes were recorded, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. 

In addition, winter storms brought extreme precipitation across the West, with significant damage in California due to flash flooding, mudslides and debris flows, according to the report. Total economic losses in the region were expected to approach $700 million, with public and private insurance losses listed at about $300 million, according to the Impact Forecasting report. 

Other winter storms and extreme weather events in the U.S. caused economic and insured losses estimated in the millions, according to the report. 

At least 27 people were killed in these U.S. weather events last month, according to the report. 

“January proved to be a highly active month for global natural hazards compared to recent years, especially when we look at the events in the US, where the powerful thunderstorms and winter storms had a devastating effect on people and communities, as well as causing a significant economic loss for country,” said Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist in Chicago, said in a statement. 

International disasters

Globally, the worst wildfires in Chile’s modern history killed at least 11 people, with preliminary damage and firefighting costs of about $890 million in January, according to the report. 

Rainfall in southern Thailand killed at least 96 people and caused total economic losses estimated to reach or exceed $860 million, according to the report.

Severe flooding in Malaysia triggered evacuations and caused widespread damage estimated at $132 million in economic losses, according to the report. 

Windstorm Egon caused estimated insured losses of more than $170 million across the United Kingdom, France and Germany.