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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Severe North Jersey winter taking a toll on insurance companies

Insurance companies are handling more claims than usual this winter to pay for damage to homes and businesses caused by cold and snowy weather. Insurance professionals say automobile claims are up, a boon for auto repair shops.
Otterstedt Insurance Agency in Englewood Cliffs, a broker that represents a number of insurance underwriters, handled 298 claims in January, about 15 percent more than usual, according to Lydia Bashwiner, general counsel and claims manager.
"We've had a lot of broken pipes, some ice damming, some roof collapses, and some ice and snow on trees bringing trees down," she said.
Axle-breaking potholes have generated some claims from motorists who have comprehensive coverage, as have icy pavement and roads made narrower by banks of plowed snow, she said.
"The body shops are happy; the insurance companies are not," Bashwiner said.
Severe winter weather is the third-biggest cause of insured catastrophe losses, after hurricanes and tornadoes, accounting for 7.1 percent of all insured catastrophe losses between 1993 and 2012, according to the Insurance Information Institute, based in New York. On an inflation-adjusted basis, insurers...
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