Winter weather in January caused more than $1.5 billion in insured losses in the United States, according to a new report from Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe modeling arm of global reinsurance intermediary Aon Benfield.
Four stretches of bitter cold, snow, ice and wind battered much of the country. More than 20 inches of snow fell in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, and the coldest temperatures in two decades froze the central and eastern U.S., with at least 20 states recording wind chill temperatures of 30 degrees below zero. That cold snap killed at least 21 people and led to $3 billion in economic losses, including insured losses of more than $1.4 billion.
Three other stretches of winter weather during January killed at least 33 people and caused more than $500 million in economic damages and insured losses approaching $200 million, according to the Impact Forecasting report. Delayed transportation and business closings drove up business interruption losses.
"The current winter season in the United States has already become the costliest year for the winter weather peril since 2011," Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting's senior scientist and meteorologist, said in a press statement. "The elevated losses this year are a reminder to insurers that the risks associated with the winter weather peril remain significant."
Winter storms are the third most costly natural disaster in the United States, behind hurricanes and tornadoes.