$1bn insurance bill after US severe weather

  • Counting costs: severe weather in the US, including some unusually early season tornadoes in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maryland, have contributed to an estimated $1 billion of insured losses last month (Photograph by Orlin Wagner/AP)

The first February tornado in Massachusetts since records began was among notable severe weather that impacted the US last month, causing a total expected insurance industry loss of a $1 billion.

The tornado was one of at least four reported in that state and nearby Pennsylvania and Maryland, in the second half of February. The twisters represented rare wintertime severe weather for the region and caused injuries and damage in a number of communities.

On the other side of the country a series of storms brought flooding and associated damage to many parts of California.

The heavy rains prompted the evacuation of 200,000 residents near Lake Oroville, in northern California, as the reservoir reached full capacity and threatened to breach its dam. The dam’s auxiliary spillway was used for the first time in its history. Repairs to the spillway could cost as much as $200 million.

Severe winter storms hitting the US northeast, including New York, New Jersey and Maine, causing insured losses in the millions of dollars, as did tornadoes, wind storms and other severed weather striking Texas and other parts of the southeast.

Losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars are expected as a result of severe weather which began in late February and stretched into the early part of this month. It has included almost 60 confirmed tornado touchdowns in the Midwest, southeast and mid-Atlantic regions, including the year’s first EF4-rated tornado — packing winds of 180mph.

The insured and economic losses have been detailed in Aon Benfield’s latest Global Catastrophe Recap report.

The report also noted Windstorm Thomas, which was named as Doris in Britain and Ireland, is the costliest to have hit Europe this year. The storm brought disruption and damage across western and central parts of Europe. Early indications are that insured losses will separately top $105 million in Germany and in Britain.

Elsewhere, wildfires in New South Wales, Australia caused at least $15 million of insured losses, while Cyclone Dineo in Mozambique caused economic losses of $17 million.

And a magnitude-6.5 earthquake in the Philippines last month casqued economic losses of $14 million.