Before “Blizzard 2015,” or "Winter Storm Juno" as The Weather Channel dubbed it, hit the central and eastern part of the US between Jan. 26 and 28, some thought it would break records.
As it was bearing down on the region, for instance, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it “could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of this city.”
Historic probably isn’t a word many experts would use to describe how the storm affected that state in the end, but it still packed a pretty big wallop. Eight or so inches of snow -- which is the average of what New York City saw -- is nothing to sneeze at, nor is the two feet that blanketed parts of Long Island.
It packed an even bigger wallop in nearby states. Many areas of Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island received 20 inches or more of snow thanks to the storm. In Massachusetts, some communities got as much as 36 inches of the fluffy white stuff.
When the storm finally petered out, at least 50 locations in six states reported more than 30 inches of snow on the ground.
Winter Storm Juno brought more than snow to impacted areas, of course. Winds as high as 78 mph rocked a number of coastal towns and cities, while others had to deal with significant flooding.
How Much Damage Did It Cause?
All the snow, water, and wind understandably caused a lot of drama in the central and eastern part of the US, but it didn’t cause much damage. Or it didn’t cause as much damage as could be expected of such a storm.
In fact, the economic impact of “Blizzard 2015” likely totaled no more than $1.25 billion, with some estimates coming in as low as $500 million.
If that sounds like a lot, consider that the price tag associated with the “cold wave” that tracked across the US in 2014 was between $15 billion to $50 billion.
What Was the Insurance Impact?
How much of this storm’s $500 million to $1.25 billion bill did insurance companies pick up? That’s hard to say, but it’s doubtful they took care of the bulk of it. After all, a 2014 study from IHS Global Insight found that most snow-related economic losses result from businesses that have to close and workers who have to stay home due to the bad weather.
Insurers in the region certainly didn’t complain too loudly about Winter Storm Juno after it wrapped up. A case in point: Insurance Journal reported in early February that the event produced “relatively few insurance claims.”
“We really don’t have much to offer in terms of a wild swing in claim activity,” Tony Payne, vice president of business development at Clark Insurance, an independent agency with offices in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, told the publication at the time.
“Fender benders were a steady source of calls, but very little related to wind or crushing snow loads,” he said, adding that all the above was “nothing unusual for this time of year.”
What Kinds of Winter Storm Damage Does Insurance Cover?
Whether or not Juno hit the insurance industry where it counts, it likely had some sort of impact on people who call Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and surrounding states home.
Winter storms cause all kinds of headaches. Snow and ice regularly bring down trees, collapse roofs, cause traffic accidents, and prompt slip-and-fall injuries.
Also, winter storms are the “third-largest cause of insured catastrophic losses,” according to Dr. Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute. (Hurricanes and tornadoes are the first- and second-largest causes.)
Thankfully, standard homeowners and car insurance policies cover the majority of the most common winter-related perils, including:
- Wind damage to a home, its roof, or its contents
- Trees or tree limbs that fall onto and damage a house or another structure on the property
- Snow or ice that results in a collapsed roof
- Burst pipes or ice dams
- Car accidents (involving more than two drivers) caused by snowy or otherwise slippery conditions
And What Winter Storm Damage Doesn’t Insurance Cover?
What if your home floods because of a winter storm? Unfortunately, homeowners insurance usually won’t cover any resulting damage. (This is true even if melting snow is responsible for the flooding, by the way.)
To protect your house and belongings -- and bank account -- from that watery fate, you have to buy flood insurance from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program or a selection of private insurers.
Some car-related issues require special insurance coverage too. A good example is if snowy or slippery road conditions cause you to crash your vehicle into something that isn’t another car. To protect against that, you need collision coverage.
Also, you need comprehensive coverage if you want to protect your auto against physical damage done by fallen tree limbs, flooding, or wind.