Damage claims in California from the December cold snap show the freeze is likely to become the third most costly natural disaster in state history, two insurance companies say.
The 1906 San Francisco earthquake was No. 1 with $1 billion in insured damages, followed by the October 1989 Northern California quake that had insured losses of $681 million on $6 billion in damages.State Farm and Farmers Insurance say the freeze will likely lead to covered claims of at least $150 million for homeowners, mostly from water damage caused by broken pipes.
The estimate was based on combined claims of more than $60 million for the two insurance companies alone.
"A lot of people are surprised that this can happen in California," John Millen, a Farmers spokesman, said Thursday. "They come out for the California dream and find their pipes freeze just like they did in Oklahoma."
Los Angeles-based Farmers estimates it will see $29 million in freeze-related damage claims statewide. State Farm, headquartered in Bloomington, Ill., expects damage claims to reach $32.5 million.
Allstate underwriter Sue Francesconi said her company anticipates $11 million in damage claims statewide from the freeze.
The preliminary assessment does not take into account the cold weather's severe damage to the state's $17.5 billion farming economy.