Overall repairable appraisal counts for the industry were down -14.9 percent in August 2020 versus August 2019. Severe weather in the Northeast from Hurricane Isaias, significant hail in SD and MN along with a dangerous derecho event in IA and IL led to an increase in comprehensive losses in the first half of the month. For example, comprehensive losses in Iowa accounted for 70 percent of all total loss valuations and 66 percent of all repairable appraisals. This underscores both the severity of the storms and the fact that non-comprehensive losses overall remain down. Losses from the wildfires in California and Hurricane Laura in Louisiana and Texas also continue to come in. Increases in comprehensive losses overall will help offset the decline in non-comprehensive losses and if September weather is as volatile, could result in claim counts for the year down only about 5 percent.
Excluding comprehensive losses, counts also remained down over 25 percent year-to-date, although August 2020 non-comprehensive counts were down only -20.5 percent versus down -24.7 percent in July 2020. Areas hit hardest by the wave of COVID-19 infections in California and Texas have slowed claim count recovery in late July and early August, with areas such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, El Paso still seeing non-comprehensive appraisals down between -27 and -30 percent, while volume in other areas such as NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and others is down between -15 and -20 percent.
Government data from early August reveals interstate miles are still down most among all road types; and this is consistent with data from other sources showing rush hour traffic is still below average in many cities. The primary factor most highly correlated to accident frequency is vehicles per road mile – i.e. how many vehicles on a given road at any given point. This is also typically referred to as ‘congestion’ which right now in most areas still seems to be below normal. With the number of COVID-19 cases rising again as many return to school, and the approach of normal flu season, many companies plan to keep at least part of their staff remote through the remainder of the year. This will likely mean non-comprehensive may remain down -10 to -15 percent for full year 2020.