Impact of Hurricane Florence on Insurers


As Hurricane Florence worked its way towards the East Coast, many insurers feared the worst. Many of their concerns can be abated. Notwithstanding the extensive damage in some areas, the losses due to the Category 1 storm should be manageable. 

As the storm approached the U.S. coastline, winds decreased to the point that it was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane—many feared it would grow into a Category 5—and wind damage ended up being minimal. As flood losses are excluded on most policies, insurance losses should not be too severe, although it is estimated that uninsured flood losses could cost around $20 billion.

As far as insured losses are concerned, catastrophe modeler Karen Clark & Co. estimated that insured losses should end up around $2.5 billion total, around a tenth of the total estimated losses. Most of this damage centered on the North Carolina coast; the Carolinas were the only location to receive tropical storm force winds. 

However, other loss estimates are a bit more bleak. Risk tracker RMS estimates that Florence caused anywhere between $2.8 billion and $5 billion in insured losses. This estimation takes into account business interruptions in residential, commercial, and auto businesses, as well as damage incurred to infrastructure limiting access to certain areas, which will delay the reopening for businesses after the storm passes.

The storm having passed, insured losses have remained minimal, although residents will be left to a great deal of flooded land, and property damage in the area may cause continued delays in reopening businesses, resulting in further claims.

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