Below-average $2.2B U.S. insured catastrophe losses in Q1: PCS

by Artemis on April 22, 2015

Insurance industry losses from catastrophes in the U.S. hit $2.2 billion during the first-quarter of 2015 from eight events, slightly below the ten-year average of $2.5 billion and just above the ten-year average of 6.7 events, according to Property Claim Services (PCS).

PCS has released its latest catastrophe report, titled “Above and Below Average: PCS Q1 2015 Catastrophe Review,” which once again highlights just how unpredictable the first-quarter can be regarding insured catastrophe losses.

The report notes eight PCS-designated events occurred during the first three months of the year across the U.S. impacting 24 states, while Canada, for the fourth consecutive year witnessed zero PCS-designated catastrophe events during Q1.

Q1 PCS-Designated Events and Insured Losses

Q1 2015 PCS-Designated Events and Insured Losses

The chart above, provided by PCS shows that Q1 insured catastrophe losses were very similar to that of 2011 and 2014, significantly higher than in 2006 and 2007 and, someway below the totals seen in the first-quarters of 2008, 2009 and 2012.

Couple this with the sporadic line that represents the number of catastrophe events during Q1 2015 and previous years, “shows the unpredictability of first-quarter activity, in which winter storm, hail, and wind events can cause significant losses,” explains PCS.

In terms of catastrophe frequency the first-quarter of 2015 has seen an above average number of events designated by PCS. The brutal nature of the U.S. northeast winter was a contributor to this, as the different spells of freezing weather and winter storms made up a number of specific events in 2015.

In fact, Q1 2015 PCS-designated insured catastrophe loss data is very similar to the previous year, as we reported at the time here on Artemis. The first-quarter of 2014 witnessed 6 events totalling $2.2 billion of damages, with the bulk of the costs coming from the polar vortex that impacted 17 U.S. states, resulting in damages of beyond $1.5 billion.

In Q1 2015 however, the costliest event took place in Massachusetts, as record levels of snow caused insured losses of almost $600 million, while New York faced the second highest insured loss total, of $370 million.

In comparison, PCS notes that during the first-quarter of 2014 Georgia was dealt the costliest event, totalling $318 million.

The chart below lists the ten most catastrophe-affected U.S. states in terms of resulting insured losses.

Top Ten Catastrophe-Affected States in Q1 2015

Top Ten Catastrophe-Affected States in Q1 2015

Broken down by category, PCS states that as with last year, personal losses accounted for the bulk of first-quarter activity, at 79% or $1.8 billion. While commercial losses made up 20% and vehicle losses just 1%.

Q1 2015 Losses from PCS-Designated Events by Category

Q1 2015 Losses from PCS-Designated Events by Category

PCS said; “First-quarter activity tends to account for a small portion of U.S. and Canadian catastrophe losses. The second quarter, already upon us, brings with it the start of hurricane season, the annual gauntlet that can pose the greatest threat to catastrophe team contingency plans.”

You can download a full copy of PCS’ Q1 2015 Catastrophe Review.

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