New Insured Loss Estimate of $18.75B from Sandy: PCS

NEW YORK—Verisk's Property Claim Services (PCS) unit has increased its insured-loss estimate from Superstorm Sandy to $18.75 billion, with a large majority of losses felt in New York and New Jersey.

Speaking at the Extreme Weather Insurance Risk Management Congress organized by American Business Conferences on Jan. 23, Alex Korb of Verisk Analytics says about $16 billion in insured losses can be traced to New York and New Jersey—about $9.6  billion from the Empire State and about $6.3 billion from the Garden State.

The estimate of insured losses includes personal and commercial property as well as personal and commercial auto, says Korb, a manager at Verisk who focuses on corporate development and the insurance-linked securities marketplace.

According to its latest data, Verisk has dismissed the notion that Connecticut should be grouped among states with the highest insured loss from the late October storm. Instead, Pennsylvania with its $700,000 million in insured losses and Maryland with $400,000 million in insured losses can now officially be mentioned among the unfortunate leaders in insured losses.

PCS’ previous estimated insured-loss tally from Sandy was $11 billion, but it said the figure was likely to rise.

Catastrophe risk modeling firms have come in with estimates as high as $25 billion—but these estimates take into other considerations, such as business interruption and “leakage”—or the payment of flood losses on policies that actually do not cover the peril.

Independent reinsurance-brokerage firm Holborn says insured losses from Sandy could reach $30 billion.

The conference Jan. 23 focused on quantifying and managing non-modeled catastrophes. If the estimate from PCS is accurate, it would indeed seem as if the models had a hard time assessing Sandy, since modeler Eqecat released an estimate of $20 billion—not far from PCS’ property-only, insured-loss estimate.

Even the highest predicted insured-loss tally of up to $25 billion from modeler Risk Management Solutions isn’t far from the mark set by PCS. Modeler AIR Worldwide released an estimated range of losses of between $16 billion and $22 billion.

Returning to the losses in New York and New Jersey, Korb says around half—about $8.1 billion—are commercial property losses. About $5.2 billion are said to come from personal property, with $2.6 billion attributed to auto losses.

He says Sandy generated about 1.5 million claims from all affected states, with 1.1 million coming from New York and New Jersey.

Jason Taylor, director of strategic sales for Xactware, says Sandy “is still an event for claims.” He warned the figures were preliminary, but the firm—which provides claims-related software to claims and underwriting professionals—has 500,000 claims in its system.

Surprisingly, he says, “demand surge is not as severe” as it has been after some storms of recent history probably because of advanced notice and preparations taken prior to landfall.

“Labor is driving demand surge—the availability of materials is not affecting demand,” Taylor says. Big-box construction suppliers brought in materials to ready for the demand, he theorizes.

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