While cleanup has only just begun, the historic winter storm that slammed into the Eastern United States over the weekend bringing everything from blizzard conditions to tornadoes caused some serious economic damage, Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting said in a new report.
“It is anticipated that this will be the first billion-dollar weather event of 2016 for the United States,” the report noted.
The Jan. 22-24, 2016 storm rivals an event that struck from Jan. 5-10, 1996 in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Midwest, according to the report. In today’s dollars, that storm system caused $920 million in insured losses and more than $4.6 billion in economic losses, Impact Forecasting said.
Due to the substantial damage up and down the East Coast and the level of business interruption that took place, it is too early to provide a specific economic or insured loss estimate, Impact Forecasting said. However, the report pointed out: “given the physical damage to homes, businesses and other structures and automobiles, plus the high costs incurred due to business interruption, it is expected that this will end up being a multi-billion-dollar economic cost.”
It will take time to gather enough data to figure out exact insurance costs, according to the report, due to multiple problems left in the storm’s wake.
“For the insurance industry, the complexity of the vent given damages resulting from snow, ice, wind, coastal flooding, tornadoes and hail will result in extra time necessary to complete assessments and seek to expedite the claims process,” Impact Forecasting added.
As many as 85 million people in the United States experienced some sort of impact from the winter storm, including 33 million who dealt with blizzard warnings, according to National Weather Service statistics cited by Impact Forecasting. The storm also caused at least 29 fatalities, either in traffic accidents or from heart attacks caused by shoveling snow, with weather related fatalities hitting North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, New Jersey, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Arkansas.
Twenty states dealt with the storm, which shut down Washington D.C., caused massive power outages, roof collapses and record snowfalls in cities up and down the East Coast, AIR Worldwide said in its own report on the storm. Airlines canceled more than 12,000 flights.
Sources: Aon Benfield/Impact Forecasting, AIR Worldwide.