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Insured losses from mid-Atlantic storms could top $2B: EQECAT


OAKLAND, Calif.—Catastrophe modeler EQECAT Inc. on Friday estimated that the two winter storms that raked the mid-Atlantic region this month caused more than $2 billion in insured losses.

Two storms struck the area, the first beginning on Feb. 5 and the second this week after, leaving some parts of the Washington metropolitan area with more than 30 inches of accumulated snow. Wind gusts of more than 50 mph were reported up and down the East Coast.

Oakland, Calif.-based EQECAT based its estimate on a preliminary assessment of the overall scale of these storms and their snow, ice and wind impacts relative to major prior events in the last two decades. EQECAT expects that the majority of the losses will be focused in the corridor from northern Virginia to the New York metropolitan area.

EQECAT said the most common sources of monetary losses are a result of roof damage, pipe breakage and ice dams in eaves causing water to leak into buildings. Some of this damage is immediately visible; other damage is typically discovered later.

“The storm that hit the mid-Atlantic in the past week has resulted in property damage including ice damming, collapsed roofs and car accidents,” a spokeswoman for the New York-based Insurance Information Institute said in an e-mail.

“Winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses, resulting in about $1 billion in insured losses annually,” she said. “From 1999 to 2008, winter storms resulted in more than $7 billion in insured losses. To put this storm into perspective, winter storms cost $770 million in 2009, the lowest in eight years and $600 million below the average. The costliest winter storm of 2009 was an ice storm in the Ohio River valley in January that cost $565 million.”

Tim Doggett, principal scientist with AIR Worldwide Corp. in Boston, noted that the first storm resembled a 1996 storm in terms of snowfall but probably not in total impact.

“The blizzard of 1996—another major winter storm to have impacted this region—brought snowfall amounts comparable to (the first) storm, but it took a track that was farther to the north, introducing heavy snowfall accumulations into the more densely populated urban centers of the Northeast,” Mr. Doggett said in a statement. “Hence, AIR does not expect the (second) storm to result in as much damage.”