Another Year, Another Record: Tornado Threat Keeps Escalating: A.M. Best Report

OLDWICK, N.J., APRIL 13, 2009 – The U.S. property/casualty industry suffered record insured losses in 2008 from tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. As the frequency and severity of these events have risen in recent years, P/C insurers face the prospect of another tornado season in which single devastating thunderstorms and tornado outbreaks result in losses of $1 billion or more.

  • Annual tornado activity in 2008 was among the worst on record, and significant tropical storm activity added to insured losses.
  • Losses in recent years from frequent tornado and thunderstorm activity has pressured financial results of regional insurers and some single-state writers.
  • Of the 29 severe thunderstorm catastrophes in 2008, two events each resulted in insured losses of $1 billion or more; another four severe weather events generated losses of $725 million or more, according to ISO/PCS.
  • Four tornado and severe thunderstorm events in the 2006-2008 period represent the industry’s highest in terms of insured losses.
  • While hurricanes and earthquakes tend to generate higher losses per event, tornadoes and related weather events have caused nearly 57%, on average, of all U.S. insured catastrophe losses in any given year since 1953.
  • With the downtown Atlanta tornado of March 2008, insurers may have to further consider tornado outbreaks that hit urban centers.

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About A.M. Best

Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is a global full-service credit rating organization dedicated to serving the financial and health care service industries, including insurance companies, banks, hospitals and health care system providers.