Preparing for Tornado Season
Unusual bursts of tornadic activity this spring means insurers need to be prepared.
By Eric Gilkey
Reptile theories and product liability strategies aside, this month’s feature article on tornado damage inspections comes at a particularly useful time. Looking forward, the months of April and May traditionally are the busiest months for tornado activity, so it pays to be prepared for what lies ahead and to take the opportunity to learn cost-effective approaches to damage assessments. But many of you may be caught looking back given the noteworthy first quarter of 2016, which saw some unusual bursts of tornadic activity that caught my attention.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), which compiles data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, preliminary data for 2016 shows that 210 tornadoes occurred through March 25, with 138 of those forming in February. That is not what we would typically call “normal” by any stretch of the imagination, since those February totals typically would be representative of more active, spring-time months. It’s doubly obscene when you consider recent historical trends, which show only three tornadoes formed in February 2015, 42 in February 2014, and 39 in February 2013.
Combine that with Verisk’s Property Claim Service data that indicates 39 percent of insured catastrophe losses from 1995 to 2014 stemmed from tornadoes, and it’s clear there is reason for caution and concern as March’s lion seems to have woken early and is ready to roar into April with nary a lamb in sight. Tornado totals have been dropping the last few years, which can lull insurers into a false sense of security. Don’t be caught off guard.