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US winter storm Uri set to inflict record-breaking, multi billion-dollar industry losses

19th February 2021 - Author: Charlie Wood

Winter storm Uri, currently wreaking havoc across southern US states, looks set to become the largest on record for re/insurers, potentially surpassing the cost of 2017’s hurricane Harvey.

CREDIT: ROD AYDELOTTE/WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD VIA AP

Storm Uri landed over the US’ President’s Day weekend bringing damaging ice in the Northwest and snow across the Midwest and Northeast.

Texas has shouldered the most damage, with millions living without electricity, water and heat.

The Insurance Council of Texas’ Camille Garcia has been reported by the Dallas Morning News as says she expects hundreds of thousands of claims, with the storm threatening to become the state’s costliest insurance catastrophe on record.

It is worth noting that the eventual industry cost of Uri still has some way to go before it falls in similar territory of $19bn Harvey, but it speaks volumes to the severity of the winter storm.

Moody’s expects insured losses for US P&C insurers to total in the billions of dollars, with claims from homeowners, commercial property, and auto lines of business.

Meanwhile, Karen Clark & Company has told its clients in a briefing document that the ultimate industry loss from this winter storm was already likely in the double-digit billions of dollars, on a modelled estimate basis. Before later updating its insured industry loss for the storm to $18 billion.

Aon has also commented on the last week of winter storm weather in the US, stating that the total combined economic cost was expected to reach well into the billions of dollars. A large portion of the property losses were expected to be covered by insurance.

The Insurance Council of Texas is also braced for severe impacts to energy infrastructure and other critical systems to consider, as well as business interruption.

Concurrently, primary insurers are preparing for a wave of claims related to property damage and the melt or thaw, which often drives more claims.

According to Moody’s he largest primary homeowners property insurance carriers in Texas are State Farm, Allstate, USAA, Farmers, Liberty Mutual, Travelers, Nationwide, Texas Farm Bureau, Progressive, and Chubb.

The largest commercial property insurers are Liberty Mutual, Travelers, TWIA, Chubb, Germania Mutual, AIG, Zurich, Factory Mutual, Markel, and Nationwide.

Auto insurers are also expected to report high claims levels due to the storm and winter weather.

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