Weekend storm leads to huge number of claims for insurance companies

Storm aftermath in Narva-Jõesuu.
Storm aftermath in Narva-Jõesuu. Source: Sergei Stepanov

The storm that battered Estonia at the weekend will inevitably lead to a large number of insurance claims due to the damage caused. According to preliminary data from insurance companies, the natural disaster claims from this storm alone could make up a large proportion of the total for the entire year.

"This year, 465 natural disaster claims have been registered. In connection with this week's storm, there have already been 139 claims registered," Lauri Nõu, head of property claims at If Insurance, told ERR on Tuesday morning.

According to Nõu, 442 natural disaster claims were reported to If Insurance in the whole of last year, with the average amount of damages per claim €3,774.

Nõu added that new claims are expected to be received over the weekend.

Liina Laks, Swedbank's head of risk insurance, told ERR that by Tuesday lunchtime, Swedbank P&C Insurance had registered a total of 154 home and casualty insurance claims in connection with the weekend storm, with a preliminary estimated total payout of €270,000. This means an average cost per claim of €1,753.

"The total number of claims is likely to increase further, as was the case for the previous storm, once the extent of the damage has been assessed, the costs of repairs finalized and all the people have had time to file their claims," said Laks.

Laks pointed out that while the storms this August mainly affected Saaremaa and other nearby islands, the amount of damage to property and vehicles registered in Estonia at the time was initially around €70,000 and has now risen to around €150,000.

"Last weekend's storm affected a larger part of Estonia, hence the initial estimates for the damages are also higher," Laks said.

According to Laks, the casco insurance cases mainly related to falling trees caused by the storm, while the home insurance cases also included accidents involving falling trees.

Storm aftermath in Narva-Jõesuu. Source: Sergei Stepanov

However, damage additionally resulted from various objects being blown around by the winds. For instance, a stack of tables that crashed into a nearby greenhouse, or a trampoline and garden furniture that were blown into a neighboring garden, damaging both the trampoline and the fence.

Caterina Lepvalts, head of claims at ERGO Insurance, told ERR that the company has registered 69 claims since the weekend's storm. Nearly 80 percent of those are home insurance claims.

"The majority of them are related to trees falling on residential or outbuildings and gardens. A number of roofs have also been damaged. Roofs blown off due to strong winds as well as falling trees and loose objects causing damage to homes and other property were responsible for the most damage," explained Lepvalts.

13 cases of damage to cars have been reported to ERGO. "When it comes to vehicles, trees or loose branches falling onto cars are the main cause of the damage," said Lepvalts.

Storm aftermath in Narva-Jõesuu. Source: Sergei Stepanov

ERGO's customers have suffered damages totaling nearly €100,000. "However, this is only a very preliminary estimate and that amount is expected to increase significantly. The actual losses will only become clear after the damaged objects have been inspected.  Therefore, the precise extent of the damage caused by the weekend's storm ought to become clear within a couple of weeks," said Lepvalts.

On Tuesday, Salva Kindlustus announced that the storm that swept across Estonia on 7 and 8 October caused their customers an estimated €60,000 worth of damages. 

"We have received around 50 claims so far, most of which are related to trees, which broke during the storm. Ida-Viru County and the coastal areas of Harju County suffered the most," said Karen Soosalu, head of property damage at Salva Kindlustus, in a press release.

In addition to the damage caused by falling trees, the wind also blew a solar panel off a roof. In one case, a metal chimney cap was also blown into a neighbor's garden, where it damaged two vehicles that were parked in the yard, the Salva Kindlustus representative said.

Last year, 2,390 property insurance claims were made as a result of damages caused by natural disasters

According to statistics provided by the Estonian Insurance Association (EKsL), there were 2,390 property insurance claims last year made in response to damages caused to buildings by storms or other types of natural disaster. The total damage to buildings amounted to almost €5 million and the average amount of damages per incident was €2,060.

"The largest amount of storm damage to buildings in recent years was in October 2019, when 623 insured events and more than €1 million in property damage occurred in a single day. In October 2021 and June 2021, acts of nature caused 490 and 430 incidences of damage to buildings respectively. Storms caused 420 insured events involving buildings in July 2020, and 419 last December," Kati Varblane, the association's head of communications, told ERR.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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