Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi have within the past 48 hours been the site of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, weather events that came mere weeks after U.S. property/casualty (P/C) insurers closed the books on 2011, a record-setting year for catastrophes, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
“More than 550 Americans lost their lives due to tornadoes in 2011—242 of them in Alabama—and now, tragically, initial media reports indicate two more fatalities have occurred in Alabama because of the most recent disaster,” said Dr. Robert Hartwig, CPCU, president of I.I.I. and an economist. “But 2011 was also the most expensive year in Alabama’s history for insured natural catastrophe related claims. Alabama’s P/C insurers paid $3.2 billion to nearly 175,000 home and business owners whose property was damaged by the 2011 storms. These claim dollars are being used to rebuild homes, businesses and entire communities throughout the state.”
Additional details on the insurance repercussions of last year’s multiple natural catastrophes in Alabama can be found in this December 2011 presentation, which Dr. Hartwig delivered in Montgomery, Alabama, to the Governor’s Affordable Homeowners Insurance Commission.
“The natural catastrophes that struck the United States in 2011 generated more than $35 billion in direct insured losses, the fifth most expensive year on record,” Dr. Hartwig stated.
The federal government made 99 disaster declarations following natural catastrophes in 2011, easily breaking the previous record of 81, which was set in 2010, the I.I.I. reported, in a year-end news release.
Standard homeowners insurance policies cover policyholders for a wide range of potential disasters, from tornadoes and windstorms, to fire and lightning strikes, to winter storm damage caused by weight of ice and snow. Consumers who need to file an insurance claim should contact their insurance agent or insurance company representative as soon as possible. Homeowners and businesses can start the claims-filing process by documenting their loss (e.g., listing their damages in writing, gathering receipts, and taking photographs of their property).