That Darn Polar Vortex

Insured losses from winter storms in the U.S. will climb well above $2.5 billion in 2014, double the annual average over the previous two decades. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) says the polar vortex will be responsible for much of the damage. The I.I.I. bases its prediction on winter storms and frigid temperatures in the first three months of the year, and a severe cold snap and heavy snowfall that gripped parts of the U.S. in November. Weather watchers point to the polar vortex as a root cause for many major weather events during both periods, the non-profit industry organization pointed out.

I.I.I. cited reports from Munich Re that blamed 11 winter storms and cold snaps in early 2014 that led to 84 deaths and approximately $2.4 billion in insured losses. More than half – about $1.7 billion – stemmed from a polar vortex event in early January. The group also cited data from the Insurance Services Office (ISO) that found 42 states experienced more auto insurance claims in the first quarter of 2014, an 8.5 percent jump over the same period in 2013. States including Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan saw collision claims jump more than 20 percent earlier this year.

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