6th Heaviest N.Y. Snow Storm Probable Minor Insurance Loss

NU Online News Service, Dec. 28, 12:51 p.m. EDT

In terms of insurance losses, the blizzard that hit the northeast over the holiday weekend is less severe than snowstorms affecting the same area earlier this year, according to officials at the Insurance Information Institute.

But the sixth heaviest snow storm on record in the New York area is likely to have little impact on insurer balance sheets, according to Robert Hartwig, president and chief economist at the I.I.I.

"Events of this magnitude are anticipated by insurers and can be handled as a matter of routine by them," he said.

According to meteorologist with the National Weather Service, the storm that hit the Northeast from Maryland's eastern shore to Maine dropped 20 inches of snow on Central Park in New York City.

NWS officials said it was New York City's sixth-worst storm since record-keeping began in 1869.

A Feb. 11-12, 2006, storm dropped 26.9 inches of snow on Central Park, breaking the previous record, set in 1947, by half an inch.

Mr. Hartwig said that despite the fact the current storm is the sixth largest in New York City history, it will have less financial impact in terms of insurance losses, because of the type of snow that fell.

The storms in the first half of 2010 produced insured losses of $2.4 billion, he said, but the current storm, while certainly producing some insured losses, will yield costs not even "remotely close to the cost of the earlier storms."

One of the reasons is that the earlier storms were not only significant in terms of snowfall, "but the earlier storms dropped heavy snow which produced widespread and persistent power outrages," Mr. Hartwig said.

"The heavy wet snow of the earlier storms compromised a significant number of structures, causing roof collapses, ice damming, water damage, and business interruption claims," he said. "This storm produced minimal power outages and the very light nature of the snow that fell, while in great depth, was far less destructive," Mr. Hartwig added.

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