Zurich Insurance Company has a new web site, Zurich HelpPoint Windstorm. Zurich’s risk engineering and claims groups recently unveiled a micro-web site which provides Zurich customers and distributors with tools and information to help them prepare for, and recover from, “windstorm” events in North America. Some insurance company attorneys have been arguing that a “windstorm” is only the “wind” part of a hurricane and not the entire tropical cyclone that has wind, storm surge, and everything else that causes damage from a tropical windstorm. Their clients know better, but it does not prevent defense attorneys from arguing this unsupported bad faith position.

So, how does Zurich say the insurance industry defines a “windstorm?”

Defining a storm

Zurich HelpPoint is here to help you protect your business from the damaging effects of storms, including not only your property, but the impact to your bottom line from business interruption too. Our goal is for Zurich customers to be the most prepared and the first ones back in business after a storm.


What is a "storm"?

The insurance industry defines a "storm" as any high wind event that accompanies extreme weather, including severe tropical cyclones, European winter storms and thunderstorms.  Storms can occur anywhere around the globe. Severe tropical cyclones include hurricanes and typhoons that have wind speeds in excess of 117 kph (73 mph). European winter storms can be as powerful as tropical storms with wind recorded as high as 216 kph (134 mph). Severe thunderstorms can develop straight-line winds in excess of 93 kph (58 mph). Both tropical storms and severe thunderstorms can spawn tornados. When tornados develop, they can generate the most severe winds with the highest wind speed recorded of 512 kph (318 mph).



Severe tropical cyclones terminology

Around the world, there are certain regions where tropical cyclones develop. According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the regional names for severe tropical cyclones include:

*                       Hurricane – North Atlantic Ocean, Northeast Pacific Ocean and South Pacific Ocean

*                       Typhoon – Northwest Pacific Ocean

*                       Severe tropical cyclone – Southwest Pacific Ocean and Southeast Indian Ocean

*                       Severe cyclonic storm – North Indian Ocean

*                       Tropical cyclone – Southwest Indian Ocean


 In one of tomorrow’s posts, I will write about how, under real and personal property coverage, this is an important issue. If you consider my post, Broussard Oral Argument: Warming The Bench Is No Easy Task, you can understand the insurers’ motivation and why they will be calling on Zurich to remove that definition or change its website.

The bottom line is that hurricanes are “windstorms,” and honest insurers are not trying to rewrite history and trade practice. The insurers that have better take cover.