Total insured losses from January storms could exceed $1.5 billion

The total value of insured losses related to winter weather in January could end up being greater than $1.5 billion, according to a report from reinsurer Aon Benfield. The vast majority of these damages stemmed from one particular storm system—the so-called polar vortex—which brought temperatures to multi-decade lows in parts of the central and eastern United States.

Many communities in the vicinity of the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes were blanketed with up to 20 inches of snow, while those in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic also had to contend with freezing rain. This wintry mix placed extensive strain on buildings in the region, causing significant damage to many residential and commercial structures.

In an interview with the Guardian, Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute in New York, noted that in addition to exterior damage, many structures may have been affected by an "epidemic of frozen and burst pipes." These incidents can be quite costly, especially for high-value homes or commercial buildings. The Guardian reported that a burst pipe in Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's house caused approximately $50,000 in damage, while it could cost as much as $1 million to repair a state-run health lab in Minnesota.

According to Aon's report, more than 150,000 claims totaling about $1.4 billion were filed in connection with the polar vortex. Thousands more claims covering more than $500 million in damages were reportedly filed as a result of other storms in January.

These recent events illustrate the importance of having accurate property value estimates for insured structures. e2Value's easy-to-use estimator helps insurers with Insurance-to-Value, a critical step in ensuring that the carrier maintains a profitable book of business and that customers are fully covered for even partial claims, such as from burst pipes.