Mercury Insurance Urges Consumers to Prepare for Possible Strongest El Niño Ever

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Record-high ocean temperatures in the Pacific signal strongest El Niño event since 1997, indicating potential for destructive storm damage. Mercury’s homeowners claims increased 39 percent, and damage and repair costs doubled during the 1997 event.

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The weather may not look threatening at the moment, but ... it's best not to wait until the last minute.

El Niño is characterized by abnormally warm temperatures around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, which can result in an increase in rainfall for the southern U.S. and drier, warmer weather for northern states. While rain may be much needed for the drought-ravaged West, the potential increase in storms can also pose a serious threat. Mercury Insurance saw a 39 percent increase in homeowners claims due to storm damage from the 1997 El Niño – the strongest on record – and is advising consumers to start preparing for the weather now.

“The amount of reported damage and repair costs doubled for Mercury policyholders during the winter of 1997, with the bulk of the damage from February storms,” says Mercury’s Chief Claims Officer Randy Petro. “The weather may not look threatening at the moment, but the predicted El Niño is expected to continue into winter 2016 and when it comes to preparing for severe storms, it’s best not to wait until the last minute.”

Mercury offers the following tips to start preparing.

  • Review homeowners and auto insurance policies. It’s important to know what type of damage is covered in the event of a storm.
  • Purchase flood insurance. Homeowners insurance policies typically don’t cover this type of damage, but flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. Consumers should also visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to learn whether or not they live in a flood zone. It’s also important to know that mudflows are also not typically covered, but they may be with flood insurance.
  • Inspect homes and yards for potential threats.
  • Ensure that windows and doors are properly sealed, and that the glass doesn’t have chips or cracks, as these can be sources for leaks (and glass can shatter during strong winds).
  • Remove trees and branches that are dead or dying from your yard to reduce the chances of them falling onto your home, auto or other structures (including neighboring property). Even if your trees are strong and healthy, it’s still a good idea to trim them back away from your home to minimize risk.
  • Inspect your roof for leaks and have the foundation checked for cracks and leaks to help prevent unseen water damage.

Petro also suggests speaking to your insurance agent. “They’re the best resource for helping you understand the ins and outs of your policies. They are the experts and can help ensure you are well protected when the rain begins to fall.”

Mercury offers a comprehensive, downloadable El Niño Preparedness Checklist to help consumers get ready.

Californians can click here to see the potential danger a strong El Niño can present to your family, home and property.


Mercury Insurance (MCY) is a multiple-line insurance organization predominantly offering personal automobile, homeowners and commercial insurance through a network of independent agents in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Since 1962, Mercury has specialized in offering quality insurance at affordable prices. For more information visit or and follow the company on Twitter.

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Wendi McAden
Pacific Communications Group
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