Hurricane Irma is projected to be the most expensive disaster is U.S. history. As it plowed through all of Florida this past weekend, the exact details of the effects and damage are still being gathered. With the combination of Hurricane Irma, Jose, and Katia, the insurance industry is expected to face significant claim payouts in the following months and years. While some claims will be immediate, insurance carriers are still paying out claims from Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005.
While approximately 650,000 people were evacuated from the Florida Keys and Miami-Dade county, the flooding and crop damage is going to be severe. Irma’s winds reached a staggering 142 mph where it hit the Keys as a Category 4 hurricane. Millions have lost power and suffered tremendous property damage and flooding.
The wind and flooding damage is estimated to exceed losses from Hurricane Harvey, which struck the Gulf Coast just 17 days ago. Due to the heavily populated areas of Florida that suffered major storm surges and the types of crops in Florida, the insurance industry is gearing up to accommodate these losses.
Damages could easily top $135 billion in Florida, with other economic losses pushing the price tag as high as $200 billion, said Chuck Watson, a Savannah, Georgia-based disaster modeler with Enki Research. Preliminary estimates show losses across the Caribbean nearing $5 billion, Josh Darr, lead meteorologist with insurance broker JLT Re Ltd. wrote in his blog Friday.
Insurers including XL Group Ltd. and Everest Re Group Ltd. recovered some ground after falling 5.1% and 6.8% respectively Thursday. The storm may knock out power to more than 3 million homes and businesses, curb natural gas demand in one of the largest U.S. markets and threaten $1.2 billion worth of crops in Florida — the nation’s top grower of fresh tomatoes, oranges, green beans, cucumbers, squash and sugarcane, explains Property Casualty 360.
The victims of these past and future hurricanes will continue on their road to recovery. In the interim, insurance companies are gearing up to pay billions in recovery efforts over the course of the coming years.
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