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Munich Re Expert Estimates Record Multiple Blizzards Could Cost Billions

Fox Business News

Posted on 11 Feb 2010

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According to Ernst Rauch, Munich Re's Corporate Climate Center chief, the mrecord ultiple blizzards that have rocked the Eastern seaboard thus far this month alone could result in billions in property damange and lost business activity, an amount equal to or surpassing past big storms.

Rauch said that it is too early to speculate on the actual economic damage from this weekend’s blizzard and the second one hitting the Mid-Atlantic yesterday, but says “It would be no surprise if it would be in the similar order of magnitude of the historical ones…It’s a series of tough storms.” Forecasters are expecting another storm early next week.

Rauch said that as of today, he thinks this year’s blizzards are similar to a two-week period of winter storms in December of 1983 that cost $1 billion in property damage and lost economic activity. Adjusted for inflation, the cost of the 1983 storms is about $2 billion (in 2009 dollars).

The 1983 “winter event” was among the dozen costliest in the last 30 years; it also killed an estimated 500 people.

According to Munich Re, the costliest winter storm in the last three decades was the March Nor’easter of 1993, which caused nearly $2 billion in property damage and $5 billion in overall economic damage.

The larger figure includes damage to public sector property that is not insured, such as roads and bridges, as well as economic damage caused by “business interruption,” such as lost sales due to bad weather and which is also generally uninsured.