Exclusively from Foa & Son
Florida passed a milestone this year as the 2015 hurricane season ended…it was the tenth year in a row without a major hurricane striking the state. The rest of the country has not been so fortunate; 2015 has been a busy year for extreme weather events.
Insurance industry sources report that insured losses from natural disasters in the United States in just the first half of 2015 totaled $12.6 billion, well above the average in the first halves of the years from 2000 to 2014. Through November 23, here’s the 2015 scorecard:
• Hurricanes: Atlantic storms, 11 named storms, 4 hurricanes (none in Florida); • Severe thunderstorms: 38 events, 66 reported fatalities;
• Hailstorms: 5,358 total hailstorm incidents, peaking in June with 1,324 reported;
• Tornadoes: 1,166 total reported, 414 in May alone, 101 fatalities;
• Floods; numerous regional and localized in events plus two major events, May in Oklahoma and Texas, October in the Carolinas, 71 killed;
• Snow/freeze events: 11 winter storms and cold waves, Massachusetts with 3 feet of snow in places, February the coldest month of the year; winter weather the third largest cause of catastrophe losses for the year
While not a specific weather event, climate warming trends have made the U.S. considerably drier. Resulting wildfires have been severe this past year, with 55,636 total fires reported and 9.8 million total acres burned, equal to the entire states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and part of New Hampshire going up in flames. This means 2015 is closing in on the record as the worst wildfire season ever, since such statistics have been kept; three of the worst wildfire seasons ever recorded have occurred in the past five years. Some places usually prone to these events escaped them this year, with Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and even southern California avoiding catastrophic fires. Northern California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, all affected by record drought, were hit hard. Two big fires were still being fought in December in Kentucky.
On a positive note, earthquake activity was low, a welcome note in an otherwise gloomy year for natural disasters. No locusts were sighted, either.
What lessons to take from this? There is no state in the U.S. that has avoided catastrophic natural events like those described above. Wherever you are, you’re at risk for what seem to be increasingly unpredictable and severe natural events. And most are insurable.
Winter and Spring are busy times for many of these types of events. Give us a call if you would like to sit down and review your insurance program to make sure it will respond if something like these were to happen to you.