Winter storms cause over $1.5B in insured losses so far

Caution tape is wrapped around a vehicle that crashed into a tree during a storm in January in Snellville, Ga.
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This year's severe winter weather in the United States could easily add up to one of the top five costliest since 1980, causing more than $1.5 billion in insured losses so far, according to a report from Insurance Information Institute.

The figure covers storms that occurred between Jan. 1 and Feb. 21, with more than 175,000 claims paid to policyholders so far, based on information services firm Verisk Analytics.

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The insured losses include roof collapses, downed tree limbs and power lines, burst pipes from freezing and auto accidents.

Despite the brutal winter, I.I.I. said losses are still within the magnitude planned for by insurers, with the insurance industry kicking off the year on firm financial footing.

Last year, winter storms caused approximately $2 billion in insured losses, up sharply from $38 million in 2012, according to reports from Munich Re. From 1993 to 2012, winter storms produced nearly $28 billion in insured losses (in adjusted 2012 dollars), or an annual average of $1.4 billion.

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Over the last few weeks, economists have blamed the harsh weather for the recent round of tepid economic reports. A CNBC Fed Survey of 19 Wall Street economists, strategists and fund managers puts the total weather impact at about a third of a percentage point of the $16 trillion U.S. economy—or, roughly $50 billion.

—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park. Follow her on Twitter @JeeYeonParkCNBC