Winter storm losses seen dominating P/C earnings as another big hurricane season looms
Jeff Dunsavage, Senior Research Analyst, Triple-I, 04/20/21
Losses from winter storms that swept through the southern United States are expected to top the agendas of property and casualty insurance companies as they report first-quarter earnings, according to S&P Global.
“Ten of the 20 largest P&C insurers are expected to record revenue decreases, while nine are expected to log lower [earnings per share] year over year,” S&P Global said, based on an analysis of sell-side forecasts.
Snow, ice and record-low temperatures that paralyzed parts of the South, especially Texas, in February caused heavy damage and historic losses. Estimates ranged from $10 billion to $20 billion, which would make it the costliest winter storm in U.S. history.
During the first quarter, southern states also were pummeled by severe convective storms characterized by destructive tornadoes, flooding, and hail.
As states work to recover from these events, they will barely have time to breathe before contending with another above-average hurricane season. The Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project team, led by Triple-I non-resident scholar Dr. Phil Klotzbach, predicts 17 named storms during the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Of those, the researchers expect eight to become hurricanes and four to reach major hurricane strength, with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.
Extreme weather and populations shifting into coastal and other disaster-prone areas are major drivers of increasing storm losses in the United States. These growing losses underscore the importance of families, communities, businesses, and policymakers adopting a resilience mindset that focuses on what Triple-I vice president and senior economist Michel Léonard calls “pre-emptive mitigation” and rapid recovery from natural disasters.
That mindset requires going well beyond the traditional emphasis on insurance as a risk-transfer mechanism toward insurers acting as risk-management partners to get out in front of perils to ensure swift recovery.