Tornados that ripped through Oklahoma last May were the costliest natural disasters of 2013 in terms of insured losses in the United States, according to Robert Hartwig, economist and president of the Insurance Information Institute. And Oklahoma was the costliest state for natural disaster related insurance payouts that year.

Dating back to 1983, 36 percent of all natural disaster-caused claims payouts are attributable to tornadoes, according to Hartwig’s analysis of U.S. natural disasters. Tornadoes also hit Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, causing loss of life and property. Compared to 2012, there were fewer natural disasters in the United States in 2013, according to a report from CoreLogic.

Total insurance claims payouts related to natural disasters in the United States were $12.79 billion in 2013, and $10.27 billion was attributable to tornadoes and severe thunderstorms; winter storms and wildfires accounted for the balance, Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) said.

“Oklahoma’s policyholders received nearly $2 billion from their insurers in 2013 after multiple, deadly tornadoes struck Oklahoma, changing forever communities such as Moore,” Hartwig said. Insurance claims payouts related to natural disasters were highest in Oklahoma, with $1.99 billion; Texas, with $1.51 billion; Colorado, with $907 million; Minnesota, with $845 million; and Nebraska, with $773 million.

“Hurricanes like 2012’s Sandy generate headlines, even though it is the frequency and severity of tornadoes that has grown in recent years, reaching its peak in 2011, when some of the deadliest and costliest tornadoes in U.S. history swept through cities such as Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Joplin, Missouri,” Hartwig said. Alabama and Missouri policyholders received more than $3 billion from their insurers in 2011.

In 2012, New York State, with $9.756 billion, and New Jersey, with $6.369 billion, attributable to Superstorm Sandy, led states in insured catastrophe losses. Next were Texas, with $2.318 billion; Kentucky, with $1.511 billion, and Colorado, with $1.440 billion, according to Hartwig’s analysis of data from Property Claims Services, a unit of the Insurance Services Office.

2013 Natural Disaster Losses by Type


Number of events


Estimated losses (millions USD)

Estimated insured losses (millions USD)

Severe thunderstorm





Winter storm










Earthquake & geophysical





Tropical cyclone





Wildfire, heat, draught










Source: Munich Re NatCatService

From 2000 to 2013, Texas led the nation in insured claims payouts resulting from tornadoes, thunderstorms and hail catastrophes, generating a total of $16.9 billion in claims, followed by Oklahoma with $9.8 billion in claims for the same period. “Since 2000, insurers have paid $135 billion on millions of claims in all 50 states from severe convective events including tornadoes,” according to I.I.I.

Over the past 30 years, Florida has accounted for $66.7 billion in insured CAT losses, or 14.3 percent the total in the United States, followed by Texas, with $48.8 billion, or 10.4 percent, Louisiana, with $42 billion or 9 percent, according to Hartwig’s analysis of data from Property Claims Services, a unit of the Insurance Services Office.

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