Triple-I White Paper—Costs of Convective Storms Are Rising

U.S. Death Toll from Tornadoes Was Higher Last Month Than Any Since May 2013


For immediate release
New York Press Office: (917) 923-8245; 

NEW YORK, May 7, 2020—Severe convective storms—tornadoes, hail, thunderstorms with lightning, and straight-line winds—are among the biggest threats to life and property in the U.S., according to a white paper released today by the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).

“Convective storms were among the costliest natural catastrophes for insurers in 2019, and the start of this year’s tornado season in March coincided with the shutdown of much of the U.S. economy due to the pandemic. Yet insurers have continued to be the nation’s financial first responders, sending disaster response teams and claims professionals into multiple states. The insurance industry is also investing in resilience initiatives which will protect individuals and communities from these storms in the future,” said Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Triple-I. 

The three months between March and May are traditionally when the most tornadoes have formed and touched down in the U.S.

“2019 was the fourth straight year in which convective storm-caused insurance payouts topped $20 billion globally, with most of them driven by U.S. hail and wind outbreaks,” said Jeff Dunsavage, Senior Research Analyst, Triple-I, and author of Severe Convective Storms: Evolving risks call for innovation to reduce costs, drive resilience. The $20 billion number he cited was from an Aon study.

Tornadoes killed 40 Americans in April 2020, the deadliest month since May 2013, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. Thirty-two of the 40 fatalities occurred on either Easter Sunday, April 12, or Monday, April 13, 2020 in four states: Mississippi (12 individuals), South Carolina (9), Georgia (8), and Tennessee (3).

Population growth and economic development have contributed to the significant convective storm-caused insurance payouts, the Triple-I’s white paper says. At the same time, research suggests the geography, frequency and intensity of these storms also may be changing. The Triple-I’s white paper examines these trends and how insurers, risk managers, individuals and businesses are responding to mitigate the risks and improve community resilience through:

  • Improved forecasting
  • Better building standards
  • Early damage detection and remediation
  • Increased risk sharing with customers through wind and hail deductibles
  • Parametric insurance offerings, such as those triggered by wind speeds


The Triple-I’s paper notes the successful work done by insurance industry-funded groups, such as the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s Geospatial Intelligence Center (GIC) when it comes to developing better building standards and advanced early damage detection systems, respectively.


Videos: Triple-I’s Jeff Dunsavage discusses Severe Convective StormsTornado Safety Tips
Facts and Statistics: Tornadoes and Thunderstorms
Article: Protecting You and Your Family In Case of A Tornado
Triple-I Blog: 2020 Worst Tornado Year in Almost A Decade

The I.I.I. has a full library of educational videos on its YouTube Channel. Information about I.I.I. mobile apps can be found here.


Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500;

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