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Winter Storms: Costs and Preparation

Winter Storms: Costs and Preparation

According to the Insurance Information Institute, U.S. insurers paid out an estimated $2.9 billion in winter-related insured losses in 2015, and are prepared to face the significant storm expected to strike the East Coast this weekend.

“Insured losses caused by severe winter weather are on the rise,” said Dr. Robert Hartwig, president of the I.I.I. and an economist, noting that both 2014 and 2015 were well above what the insurance industry has typically experienced at this time of year. The $2.9 billion in losses for 2015 were up sharply—26 percent—from $2.3 billion in losses in 2014, and up $1 billion or 53 percent from $1.9 billion in 2013.

Between 1995 and 2014, winter storm claims accounted for 6.8 percent of all insured U.S. catastrophe losses. According to Verisk’s ISO Property Claim Services, winter storm claims occupy the third position after hurricanes and tropical storms (40.8 percent) and tornadoes (39.1 percent) as the costliest natural disasters.

Winter Storm Jonas is announced to hit the Northeast on Friday, bringing with it winds strong enough to snap tree branches or even topple some weaker trees; this could result in power outages. In addition, some areas in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast will see very heavy wet snow that could also weigh down trees and power lines, causing more outages.

Freezing rain may lead to icing across portions of the interior North Carolina and Virginia. Some of these areas could even see both high winds and heavy snow or ice, worsening the impacts.

If Jonas does make an entrance on Friday, the metro areas in and around Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston could be buried in snow, according to AccuWeather.  Make sure you take the needed steps to be prepared:

  1. Be prepared. A flashlight and extra batteries, heating fuel, matches and candles, smoke detector and fire extinguisher, first-aid supplies, portable radio and extra blankets.
  2. Stock up on pantry items. Get canned products and items that do not need to be refrigerated: soup, brans, dried fruit, crackers and energy bars. Don’t forget Fido’s menu! Stock up on water too or other types of beverages you might need. Remember, you need at least one gallon of water per person per day to last at least three days.
  3. Keep busy. During a power outage life shouldn’t be dull. If you’re not into reading, there are other ways to keep occupied; you can try puzzles, coloring books, magazines, playing cards and board games.