The Get-Ready Checklist

There are many useful tips for preparing for a disaster, but what do you do when one is bearing down upon you and you only have a few days or even hours to prepare? Here is a list of tips we’ve assembled:

If you remain at home

If you don’t need to relocate, stay indoors. Don’t go out during the brief calm when the eye of the storm passes over. Wind speeds can increase dramatically in seconds.

  • Stay away from windows and glass doors and move furniture away from exposed doors and windows.
  • Stay on the downwind side of house. If your home has an “inside” room, stay there during the height of the hurricane.
  • Keep the radio or television tuned for information from official sources.
  • Without taking any unnecessary risks, protect your property from damage. Making temporary repairs can reduce your losses.
  • Line the bathtub with plastic sheeting or a clean shower curtain, or caulk the drain with silicone caulking — it holds water for weeks and cleans up easily when dry. Plan on three gallons per person, per day for all uses (including flushing the toilet).

 Prepare an evacuation plan

In an emergency you may have only a few minutes to gather your important papers and leave your home, possibly for good. Have the following ready to go:

  • Medicines, prescriptions, comfort items and a change of clothes.
  • Emergency supplies such as flashlights, radio, batteries and water.
  • Computer hard drive or laptop.
  • Insurance policies; birth and marriage certificates; wills; deeds; financial information such as account numbers, recent tax returns, stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates; driver’s licenses and other personal identification.
  • Take warm, protective clothing and remember to lock windows and doors.

After the hurricane, dangers remain!

The storm may have passed, but new dangers lurk.

  • Beware of outdoor hazards. Keep away from loose or dangling power lines, and report them immediately to the proper authority.
  • Walk or drive cautiously, washouts may weaken road and bridge structures.
  • In the event of a power outage, throw out food that may be spoiled. Boil municipal water before drinking until you have been told it is safe.

Additional resources:

Hurricane Awareness

Preparing For A Hurricane

Making Your Home More Hurricane Resistant: Five Steps 

Infographic: This Hurricane Season, Lock in Peace of Mind

The Florida Sun Sentinel Hurricane Guide

Harvey vs. Irma: Every Hurricane is Different

Hurricane Irma begins its assault, while Texas and Louisiana begin the long road to recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

No one, of course, knows exactly what damage Irma will unleash, but it is likely to be quite different from what Harvey wrought. That’s because no two storms are alike.

Business Insider touches on the differences:

While Harvey’s record rains drenched southeastern Texas and western Louisiana, flooding Houston in over 4 feet of rainfall, Irma’s winds — if they stay as strong as they were on Tuesday evening — could flatten buildings, trees, and power lines on the Caribbean islands it’s threatening to devour.

At its peak, Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, but its weakened winds downgraded it to a tropical storm the day after it made landfall. Irma, meanwhile, is a Category 5 monster that’s already one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded — and it’s still strengthening.

Meanwhile, Live Science laments the problems with shoehorning all the complexities of a hurricane into a single number, like Category 5.

As a Category 4 storm, Harvey’s winds meaning landfall blew between 130 and 156 mph. But catastrophe modeling firm RMS said the storm packed only one-fifth the total energy of Hurricane Ike, a Category 2 storm that struck the same area in 2008.

Harvey became an enormous flood because the storm lost almost all its forward momentum upon reaching land.

Meanwhile Irma is among the most powerful storms ever to cross the Atlantic, but doesn’t threaten a Harvey-like deluge. It is delivering, however, bark-shredding winds that will cause catastrophic damage.

Both storms, though, are tragedies.

Harvey survivors can learn more about filing flood insurance claims here. They can learn about filing other insurance claims here. For other types of federal disaster assistance, click here.

If you are bracing yourself for Irma, FEMA has advice here.

Irma strikes Leeward Islands, Forecast to Turn North Toward Florida

Associated Press (via NY Daily News):

The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history made its first landfall in the islands of the northeast Caribbean early Wednesday, churning along a path pointing to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida over the weekend.

The eye of Hurricane Irma passed over Barbuda around 1:47 a.m., the National Weather Service said. Residents said over local radio that phone lines went down. Heavy rain and howling winds raked the neighboring island of Antigua, sending debris flying as people huddled in their homes or government shelters.

CNN notes that the eye of the storm was bigger than the island of Barbuda.

The forecast is for the storm to swing north toward Florida, as you can see in the National Hurricane Center cone illustration above. A South Florida strike is forecast four or five days from now.

FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency – has information on how to prepare for a hurricane.

Category 5 Hurricane Irma heading Toward the Leeward Islands. Florida Declares a State of Emergency.

Hurricane Irma has reached category 5 strength and Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties across the state. A mandatory evacuation of visitors and residents of the Florida Keys will go into effect on Wednesday.

The storm is an immediate threat to the small islands of the northern Leewards, including Antigua and Barbuda, as well as the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Irma: Still a Threat

Sunday night, as Hurricane Irma toggles between Category 2 and Category 3, Weather Underground gives us the . . .

Bottom line: Irma is a growing threat to the Leeward Islands, the Greater Antilles, and the Eastern Bahamas. Irma is expected to be drawing closer to the East Coast as a powerful Category 4 hurricane this weekend, but it is still too soon to predict the timing and location of any potential landfall with confidence, and it is still possible Irma will move out to sea.

Do you have a hurricane plan?

  • Yes: Make sure it is ready to go.
  • No: Here are some basics on what you need.

FEMA: Applying for Disaster Assistance

This just came in an email blast from FEMA, along with an accompanying pdf:

FEMA encourages ALL individuals affected by Hurricane Harvey to register for disaster assistance—even if they have flood insurance.

At this time, FEMA is encouraging individuals to register through the website at: www.disasterassistance.gov. There is the ability to register by phone however; as expected there will be wait time when calling 1-800-631-6632 (FEMA).

FEMA’s disaster assistance can provide:
· Temporary housing
· Lodging expenses reimbursement
· Repair
· Replacement
· Permanent or Semi-Permanent Housing Construction

It can also provide the following available:
· Disaster-caused child care expenses
· Disaster-caused medical and dental expenses.
· Disaster-caused funeral and burial expenses.
· Disaster-caused damages to essential household items (room furnishings, appliances); clothing; tools (specialized or protective clothing and equipment) required for your job; necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies).
· Fuel for the primary heat source (heating oil, gas).
· Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier).
· Disaster-caused damage to an essential vehicle.
· Moving and storage expenses caused by the disaster (moving and storage of personal property while repairs are being made to the primary residence, and returning property to the primary address).
· Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA.
· Other expenses that are authorized by law.

At registration:
· At time of registration and inspection, applicants are required to inform FEMA of all insurance coverage that may be available to them to meet their disaster-caused needs. FEMA does not require denial of insurance coverage before people call 800-621-3362 to register for FEMA assistance.
· Applicants who only have homeowners insurance but have sustained flood damage are not required to submit insurance documentation to receive FEMA Rental Assistance or financial assistance for real or personal property disaster-caused damage.
· Applicants are not required to submit homeowners-insurance documents to FEMA before FEMA will consider their eligibility for financial assistance for any real property damage caused by flood.

For more information on FEMA’s Individual Disaster Assistance, please see https://www.fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance.

Hurricane Irma: Not Too Soon to Prepare

The tragedy of Hurricane Harvey continues, but Hurricane Irma lurks.

As I write this (1 p.m. Saturday) Irma has sustained winds of 110 mph, which puts it at the top of Category 2 status. It could reach Cat 4 soon, according to the National Weather Service, and its path could take it to the East Coast by mid-week.

If you live along the East Coast – and with Harvey fresh in mind – it really, really makes sense to make sure Irma doesn’t surprise you.

FEMA gives a complete rundown of what to do before and after a storm here.

 

CoreLogic: Insured Loss (including flood) approaches $10B

CoreLogic released new estimates for losses from Hurricane Harvey:

  • NFIP insured losses – between $6 billion and $9 billion. This implies losses will hit the private reinsurance layer ($4 billion excess $4 billion, of which reinsurers bear about 26 percent).
  • Private flood insurance losses: less than $0.5 billion.
  • Uninsured flood loss: between $18 billion and $27 billion.
  • Insured wind loss: $1 billion to $2 billion.

Insured loss for Texas and Louisiana is between $7.5 billon and $11.5 billion, according to their estimates. This excludes commercial, loss of business and other, broader economic losses, according to the CoreLogic press release.

An estimated 70 percent of flood damage from Hurricane Harvey is not covered by any insurance.

 

Hurricane Harvey loss estimates roundup as of 9/8/17

Media accounts after catastrophes discuss two types of losses – economic losses and insured losses. Sometimes they do not distinguish between the two. Insured losses are the claim dollars that insurance companies incur from a disaster. Economic losses are the total losses, some of which is covered by insurance and some of which is not. Another way to say it: insured loss + uninsured loss = economic loss.

A hurricane creates another complication. Hurricanes often involve flooding, but flood losses are not covered by a standard homeowners policy. They are covered by a special insurance policy with the federal National Flood Insurance Program. Often insured loss estimates leave out losses from flood insurance.

Here is a rundown of loss estimates, both insured and uninsured. We’ve tried to specify whether flood is included, or if there is another important nuance to the estimate.

We will keep updating estimates as we receive them.

 

Economic losses

  • 9/6: AIR estimates property losses from wind, flood and storm surge to be $65 billion to $75 billion. Insured losses will be about $13 billion, detailed in the “Insured Losses” section of this post.
  • Global risk modeling and analytics firm Risk Management Solutions (RMS) projects economic losses caused by wind, storm surge, and inland flood from the calamity to be as high as $70 billion to $90 billion. The majority of the overall loss is likely to be from inland flooding in the Houston metropolitan area, RMS said. Update 9/4: RMS puts the NFIP-insured tab at between $7 billion and $10 billion, implying a significant if not total loss to its private market reinsurers, who reinsured a little over $1 billion of the $4 billion excess $4 billion layer.
  • Update 9/1: Moody’s Analytics estimates economic losses to be between $81 billion and $108 billion, Artemis reported.
    • Homes: $45-55 billion
    • Commercial Property: $15-20 billion
    • Vehicles: $8-12 billion
    • Infrastructure: $5-10 billion
    • Total damages: $73-97 billion
    • Lost economic output: $8-11 billion
    • Total cost: $81-$108 billion
  • Moody’s Analytics estimates economic losses in southeast Texas alone to be between $51 billion and $75 billion, Artemis reported. Moody’s Analytics expects property damage to homes and vehicles of $30 billion to $40 billion, $10 billion to $15 billion in flood damages to businesses, $5 billion to $10 billion in infrastructure damage, and $6 billion to $10 billion of lost output.

Insured losses

  • AIR (9/6)
    • $10 billion to the insurance industry, of which $3 billion is wind and storm surge
    • This estimate excludes NFIP losses.
  • Morgan Stanley (9/1):
    • Wind – $2-4 billion
    • Auto – $3-6 billion
    • Commercial Flood – $5-15 billion
    • NFIP – $5-15 billion
  • Karen Clark (9/1):
    • Wind – $2.5 billion
    • Storm surge – $0.5 billion
    • Inland flood – $12.4 billion
  • Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, A Verisk Analytics business, estimates that privately insured losses resulting from Hurricane Harvey’s winds and storm surge in Texas will range from $1.2 billion to $2.3 billion.
  • Business Insurance notes that S&P puts a $6 billion industry loss on the event, with primary companies, not reinsurers bearing the brunt. The article also discusses the possibility of flood vs. wind coverage disputes, which were a notable issue after Hurricane Katrina and superstorm Sandy.
  • RMS says industry wind losses will be in the “low billions” in its continually updated blog. Though it hit shore as a Category 4 storm, “Harvey is not primarily about wind.”
  • Update 8/31: CoreLogic estimates
    • NFIP insured losses – between $6 billion and $9 billion. This implies losses will hit the private reinsurance layer ($4 billion excess $4 billion, of which reinsurers bear about 26 percent).
    • Private flood insurance losses: less than $0.5 billion.
    • Uninsured flood loss: between $18 billion and $27 billion.
    • Insured wind loss: $1 billion to $2 billion.

    Insured loss for Texas and Louisiana is between $7.5 billion and $11.5 billion, according to their estimates. This excludes commercial, loss of business and other, broader economic losses, according to the CoreLogic press release.

  • Analytics firm Corelogic estimates privately insured losses from wind damage to range from $1.5 billion to $3 billion.

 

The Week in a Minute, 8/31/17

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm on Friday, August, 25, and then turned into the single biggest rain event in U.S. history.

Harvey’s floodwaters have caused multiple deaths and billions of dollars in property damage in Texas. The weather system even made landfall for a second time in Louisiana on Wednesday, August 30.

Tropical Storm Irma is expected to become the fourth hurricane of the 2017 season this week and could pose a threat either to North or South Carolina in a few days, according to some computer models.

 

 

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