Now that hailstorms are no longer “attritional perils” and are much more widespread than they used to be, property/casualty insurers could benefit from adding reinsurance for these threats, an RMS executive said recently.
“This week’s severe storms in Tornado Alley and the surrounding regions is yet another example of how hail is no longer an attritional peril,” RMS director and meteorologist Matthew Nielsen said in a statement issued by the California-based catastrophe risk management company. “With 60 percent of average storm losses in the U.S. coming from hail, insurers should consider looking at reinsurance for these events.”
Nielsen’s comments follow a week of storms that included damaging, baseball-sized hail, flash flooding, hurricane-strength straight-line winds and tornadoes. These storms hit states including Nebraska, Ohio, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri, including parts of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, RMS noted. The cause: a low pressure system moving eastward that clashed with a strong, low-level jet of moisture that carried warm, moist air northward from the south.
Nielsen said that widespread hail events aren’t uncommon in the U.S. and can harm cars, homes and buildings. He also noted that single hail events can produce large losses.
Adding to the sense of urgency, RMS noted that severe storms are the cause of more than one-third of national cat losses in the U.S. and Canada. After late may, the U.S. faces as much as a 90 percent chance of a severe thunderstorm, the company said.
RMS is not alone in its assessment. Aon Benfield recently issued its May 2014 Global Catastrophe Recap report, which noted that U.S. tornado activity has remained low compared to previous years, but severe storms and large hail caused $1 billion in damage in May in the Midwest, Plains, Rockies, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
RMS, meanwhile, reminded us in its release of Nielsen’s remarks that 2014 is an El Niño year, and that “strong El Niño years tend to yield more severe storm activity during the typical tornado season, with events typical such as the hailstorm onslaught that hit Tornado Alley.
For June and July, RMS predicts severe weather will migrate north from Texas and Oklahoma into the Northern Plains region.