Tag Archives: Flood Insurance

Global Insured Disaster Losses in May: $7 billion and Counting

At least $7 billion—that’s how much global disasters and severe weather are expected to cost insurers and reinsurers in May.

Aon Benfield’s latest Global Catastrophe Recap Report notes that the Fort McMurray wildfire in Alberta, Canada, will become the costliest disaster in the country’s history.

Insured losses—including physical damage and business interruption—are expected to be in excess of $3.1 billion, while total economic losses will be well into the billions of dollars.

The fire charred more than 580,000 hectares (1.43 million acres) of land and destroyed at least 10 percent of Fort McMurray, including more than 2,400 homes and other structures.

Remarkably, no direct casualties were reported from the event as it prompted the largest evacuation in the history of Alberta.

Adam Podlaha, global head of Impact Forecasting, says:

“The severity of wildfire damage in Fort McMurray is an unfortunate reminder of how significant insurable losses can be from the peril.”

And:

“Since this is just the sixth individual global wildfire to surpass the billion-dollar threshold for insurers, there is not a lot of precedent for a fire event of this magnitude.”

Check out Insurance Information Institute wildfire facts and statistics here.

Elsewhere, severe weather and flooding in Europe where the storm ‘Elvira’ swept across parts of northern Europe between late May and early June caused most damage in Germany, France, Austria, Poland and Belgium, where floods impacted many major metro regions, including Paris.

Preliminary estimates from industry associations in France (MAIF) and Germany (GDV) put the estimated combined minimum claims payouts at in excess of $2.3 billion, while overall economic damage is tentatively estimated at $4.6 billion.

May also saw no fewer than five outbreaks of severe convective storms in the United States, affecting parts of the Plains, Midwest, and Mississippi Valley. Storm-related flooding also caused major damage in parts of Texas.

Total aggregated insured losses were estimated at over $1 billion, Aon’s Impact Forecasting unit said.

Meanwhile, Cyclone Roanu brought torrential rain to Sri Lanka, eastern India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China during May, damaging or destroying nearly 125,000 homes and structures across all five countries. Estimated reconstruction costs were put at $1.7 billion, though insured losses are substantially less due to low insurance penetration.

Even after all that, May was not done, with other notable natural hazard events around the globe, including:

—Five separate instances of flooding impacted China as aggregated economic losses topped $1.5 billion. Most of the damage was attributed to agricultural interests.

—Other major flood and landslide events in May were reported in parts of Hispaniola, Kenya, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Ethiopia, India and Yemen.

—Tropical Storm Bonnie brought heavy rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and Georgia in the United States at the end of May and into June. Total economic losses were expected to be minimal.

—Earthquakes in Ecuador and China caused damages to thousands of homes and a winter weather outbreak in northern China caused damage to crops totaling $61 million.

Top Metro Areas Have More to Lose When a Hurricane Hits

Latest Atlantic hurricane season forecasts are focused on the numbers – how many storms can we expect? and how many of those will be major hurricanes? NOAA, Colorado State University and Tropical Storm Risk cast their predictions here, here and here.

But as the latest storm surge analysis from CoreLogic indicates, it is where a hurricane hits land that is often a more important factor than the number of storms that may occur during the year.

Why?

More than 6.8 million homes located along both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States are at risk of hurricane-driven storm surge, with a total reconstruction cost value (RCV) of just over $1.5 trillion, according to CoreLogic.

But the disproportionate numbers of at-risk homes in just 15 major metropolitan areas means that where the storm makes landfall can make all the difference in terms of property damage and loss of life.

15metroareas

CoreLogic’s analysis reveals that some 67 percent of the 6.8 million total at-risk homes and 68 percent of the total $1.5 trillion RCV is located within 15 major metropolitan areas.

That’s 4.6 million homes, with total RCV of just over $1 trillion located in urban centers along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts including Miami, New York City, New Orleans, Houston, Philadelphia, Charleston and Boston.

The Miami metro area, which includes Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, tops the list with 780,482 at-risk homes and an RCV of $143.9 billion.

By comparison, the New York City metro area has slightly fewer homes with potential storm surge risk at 719,373, but a significantly higher RCV totaling $260.2 billion.

As CoreLogic says:

“History has shown us that a single low-level storm can cause substantial property loss and potential loss of life it it occurs in or near an area of dense development.”

It’s important to note that properties located outside of designated FEMA flood zones may still be at risk for storm surge inundation.

However, only homes located within FEMA-designated high risk flood areas are required to carry flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

A 2015 poll by the Insurance Information Institute found that 14 percent of American homeowners had a flood insurance policy. This percentage has been at about the same level every year since 2009.

More on Historic South Carolina Floods

The expected $2 billion minimum economic cost of the South Carolina and eastern U.S. floods in early October will place the event as one of the top 10 costliest non-tropical cyclone flood events in the country since 1980.

Aon Benfield’s latest Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of natural disaster events occurring worldwide during October 2015, reveals that already public and private insurers have reported more than $400 million in payouts from the event.

Days of relentless record-setting rainfall caused by a complex atmospheric set-up brought tremendous flooding across much of South Carolina, leaving at least 19 dead, Aon reported.

The event caused considerable flood inundation damage to residential and commercial properties, vehicles, and infrastructure after more than two feet (610 millimeters) of rain fell from October 1 to 5.

Aon noted that the minimum $2 billion in total economic losses from the event includes infrastructure and $300 million in crop damage.

Preliminary reports from insurers suggest roughly $350 million in claims.

However, additional insured losses of at least $100 million are expected via the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the USDA RMA crop insurance program.

A recent  article  by Insurance Journal noted that the potential exposure home insurers in South Carolina face from the early October event is estimated at $18 billion. That’s according to figures by catastrophe modeling firm CoreLogic.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), none of the 10 largest floods as ranked by NFIP payouts occurred in South Carolina (see below).

However, the state was affected by three of the most costly U.S. hurricanes: Hurricanes Charley and Frances in 2004 and Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

The list  includes events from 1978 to June 30, 2015, as of August 21, 2015.

Top10FloodEventsNFIP

Storm Surge Risk Rising Along U.S. Coast

While there’s much focus on storm surge risk in New Orleans as we mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, two new reports highlight the vulnerability of other U.S. coastal cities to storm surge flooding.

An analysis by Karen Clark & Co ranks the U.S. cities most vulnerable to storm surge flooding based on losses to residential, commercial and industrial properties from the 100 year hurricane.

The findings may surprise you.

KCC reveals that some of the cities most vulnerable to storm surge flooding have not been impacted for decades. A few have not experienced a direct hit from a major hurricane in the historical record.

Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida is the metropolitan area most vulnerable to storm surge flooding, according to KCC, with a loss potential of $175 billion.

Four of the top cities (Tampa, Miami, Fort Myers and Sarasota) are in Florida, and the west coast of the state is more vulnerable than the east coast.

In fact, three cities–Tampa, New Orleans and New York–will likely have losses exceeding $100 billion from the 100 year event.

KCC notes that most of the flood damage potential is currently not insured, and that “private flood insurance presents a significant opportunity for insurers that have the right tools for understanding the risk.”

Meanwhile, a new report by catastrophe modeling firm RMS, took a look at six coastal cities in the U.S. to evaluate how losses from storm surge are expected to increase in the next 85 years and found that cities such as Tampa, Miami and New York face greater risk of economic loss from storm surge.

To evaluate risk, RMS compared the chance of each city sustaining at least $15 billion in economic losses from storm surge–the amount of loss that would occur if the same area of New Orleans was flooded today as was flooded in 2005.

Based on its findings, Tampa has a 1-in-80 chance of experiencing at least $15 billion storm surge losses this year, followed by Miami with a 1-in-125 chance and New York with a 1-in-200 chance.

New Orleans still faces significant risk, with a 1-in-440 chance of at least $15 billion in economic losses related to a storm surge event, RMS noted.

Looking ahead to 2100, the likelihood of those cities sustaining this level of losses rises dramatically.

By then both Tampa and Miami will have a 1-in-30 chance of experiencing at least $15 billion in economic losses related to a storm surge event, while in New York the chance increases to 1-in-45 and in New Orleans to 1-in-315.

Here’s the visual on RMS’ findings via its infographic:

katrina-10th-anniversary-campaign-infographic

 

GAO: How to Make Flood Insurance Attractive to Private Sector

Efforts to delay or repeal rate increases under the Biggert-Waters reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would likely continue to increase the NFIP’s long-term burden on taxpayers.

They may also reinforce private insurers’ skepticism that they would ever be permitted to charge adequate rates and make their participation in the flood insurance market unlikely in the foreseeable future, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

In its analysis GAO notes that new technologies and a better understanding of flood risks may have increased private insurers’ willingness to offer flood coverage, but a key condition to their participation is the ability to charge rates that fully reflect the estimated risk of flooding.

GAO states:

As debates over the private sector’s role continue, one step to address the burden on low- and moderate-income policyholders could be taken immediately. As we have suggested previously, Congress could eliminate subsidized rates, charge full-risk rates to all policyholders, and appropriate funds for a direct means-based subsidy to eligible policyholders. The movement to full-risk rates would encourage private sector participation, and the explicit subsidy would address affordability concerns, raise awareness of the risks associated with living in harm’s way, and decrease costs to taxpayers, depending on the extent and amount of the subsidy.†

Even with increased private insurer participation in the flood insurance market, the GAO report foresees a continuing role for the federal government in the form of a residual market or NFIP reinsurer.

Insurance Journal has more on this story.

Check out this USA Today article on latest Congressional action to delay new flood insurance premiums.

Also check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on flood insurance.

Swiss Re: River Flooding Poses Highest Risk to Urban Areas

Flood risk threatens more people around the world than any other natural catastrophe, according to a new report from Swiss Re.

Across the 616 metropolitan areas included in the study, river flooding poses a threat to over 379 million residents. That’s more than the 283 million inhabitants potentially affected by earthquakes and the 157 million people at risk from windstorms.

When these natural catastrophes occur they not only affect millions of people but can also significantly disrupt the local and national economy.

Urban dwellers in Asia’s megacities are especially at risk, with Tokyo, Manila and Hong Kong-Guangzhou topping the population-at-risk index, Swiss Re says. Although smaller in size, European and U.S. cities could also face huge economic repercussions in the event of a major disaster.

Swiss Re’s report finds that metropolitan areas such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York and Amsterdam-Rotterdam rank high in terms of potential lost productivity, measured by the value of working days lost.

For example, the report shows that while a devastating earthquake in Los Angeles could affect just as many people as in Jakarta, the resulting value of working days lost would be 25 times higher.

Based on Swiss Re’s risk models and detailed hazard data, the report provides a global risk index comparing the human and economic exposure of 616 cities around the world. Together, these are home to 1.7 billion people and produce a combined GDP of $35 trillion, half of the world’s total economic output.

Swiss Re notes:

Investments in infrastructure are vital to strengthen the resilience of metropolitan areas. The potential damage that a large natural disaster can cause to roads, bridges, telecommunications and other essential infrastructure is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the world’s big cities. This is why strengthening urban resilience is also a prime concern for the insurance industry. As an ultimate risk taker, the insurance industry has a vested interest in new infrastructure investments, upgrades to ageing infrastructure and adaptation measures.†

Flood Peril Still Most Costly Nat Cat Loss in 2013

Flood events continue to dominate natural catastrophe losses in 2013, according to the latest Global Catastrophe Recap report from Aon Benfield.

The report reveals that billion-dollar flood losses were recorded in China, Russia, Philippines, and Pakistan during August 2013, causing an initial combined estimate of $10 billion in economic losses.

Additional flood events were recorded in Afghanistan, Niger, Sudan, Mali, Laos, Cambodia, India, and the United States.

In a press release Steve Jakubowski, president of Impact Forecasting, says:

The flood events during the month of August continues a similar theme that has been observed throughout the year, as the flood peril has proven the most costly – so far – during 2013. Economic losses from flood events have equated to more than 40 percent of overall losses sustained this year.†

He adds:

This highlights the need for insurers to further appreciate the impact of the flood peril through improved analysis and understanding of significant events and utilizing that learning curve to further strengthen the development, and usage, of catastrophe models.†

In the U.S., a severe weather event affected the Midwest and the Plains in early August, causing at least two fatalities. The states of Minnesota and Wisconsin were hardest-hit. Total economic losses were estimated at $1.0 billion, with insured losses in excess of $625 million.

Excessive rainfall also prompted major flooding between August 5 and 12 throughout parts of five states. More than 2,000 homes sustained flood damage in Missouri and Kansas alone due to inundated basements or backed-up sewers. Additional flood damage occurred in Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Total economic losses were estimated by state governments at roughly $25 million.

In other U.S. catastrophe news, Aon noted that the Rim Fire became the fourth largest wildfire in California’s history.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on flood insurance.

Swiss Re on First Half Catastrophe Losses

While 2013 so far has  been a below-average catastrophe loss year for the global insurance industry, this could easily change in the coming months, Swiss Re warned yesterday.

Just-released sigma estimates put total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters at $56 billion in the first half of 2013, of which $20 billion was insured.

Insured losses from natural catastrophes totaled $17 billion, with flooding a main driver.

In a press release, Kurt Karl, chief economist at Swiss Re says:

Though 2013 has so far been a below-average loss year, the severity of the ongoing North Atlantic hurricane season, and other disasters such as winter storms in Europe, could still increase insured losses for 2013 substantially.†

Flooding accounted for some $8 billion of the $17 billion in global insured losses from natural catastrophes in the first half.

As a result, 2013 is already the second most costly calendar year in terms of insured flood losses on sigma records.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on global catastrophes here.

In other news, the late summer  edition of Cavalcade of Risk, a round-up of risk related posts from around the blogosphere, is now live over at My Personal Finance Journey. Our recent post on cyber insurance is among the featured posts.

RMS: Storm Surge Risk Greater Than Hurricane Wind

As we approach the peak of hurricane season, catastrophe modeler RMS has warned that storm surge poses a greater risk than hurricane wind.

RMS says its updated North American hurricane model shows there is a 20 percent chance that storm surge loss will be greater than wind loss for any U.S. hurricane that makes landfall. And  for the  northeast coast of the U.S. the risk is even higher.

Dr. Claire Souch, vice president, model solutions at RMS says:

Our model shows there is a 20 percent chance that storm surge loss will be greater than wind loss for any U.S. hurricane that makes landfall, which rises to almost 40 percent along the northeast coast of the United States – this is a risk the market can no longer afford to ignore.†

RMS’ updated North Atlantic hurricane model suite includes the ability to fully quantify the risk from catastrophic hurricane-driven storm surge.

An earlier paper by RMS on Superstorm Sandy made the point that storm surge loss can drive more insurance loss than hurricane wind.

In the paper RMS noted that while Sandy was not even classified as a hurricane at landfall, it caused a Category 2 storm surge in New York City:

This is not the first time that storm surge has had a dominant effect. It was responsible for more than half of the total loss from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which was a Category 3 storm at landfall, but had a Category 5 equivalent storm surge.†

Recent analysis by CoreLogic estimates that more than 4.2 million U.S. residential properties are exposed to storm-surge risk valued at roughly $1.1 trillion, with more than $658 billion of that risk concentrated in 10 major metro areas.

According to I.I.I. facts and stats on flood insurance, Hurricane Sandy was the second costliest U.S. flood, based on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) payouts as of July 12, 2013.

Storm Surge Report Shows Increasing Risk Along Atlantic and Gulf Coasts

An annual report from CoreLogic reveals that the number and value of total properties along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts at risk of hurricane-driven storm surge is increasing significantly.

In its 2013 analysis CoreLogic estimates that more than 4.2 million residential properties are exposed to storm-surge risk valued at roughly $1.1 trillion, with more than $658 billion of that risk concentrated in 10 major metro areas.

Florida tops the state rankings with nearly 1.5 million properties at risk and $386 billion in total potential exposure to damage.

Louisiana ranks second in total properties at risk with just over 411,000 homes in storm-surge zones, while New York ranks second in total value of coastal properties exposed at nearly $135 billion.

At the local level, the New York metropolitan area, which encompasses northern New Jersey and Long Island as well, contains not only the highest number of homes at risk for potential storm-surge damage, but also the highest total value of residential property exposed, at more than $200 billion.

CoreLogic makes the point that extensive regions along both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts are vulnerable to storm surge, and yet the homeowners who live in these areas are not required to carry flood insurance because they are not located within a designated FEMA 100-year floodplain.

It says:

Homeowners who live outside of the FEMA Special Hazard Flood Areas (SFHA), especially in the Northeast, would have little reason to carry flood insurance, given that they may not be aware of the risk storm surge poses to their properties.†

For that reason, fully understanding the number and value of homes at risk of sustaining storm-surge damage allows insurance providers to improve underwriting policies and procedures.†

CoreLogic notes that public awareness of the risk hurricane-driven storm surge poses to coastal homeowners has never been higher coming off the heels of Hurricane Sandy last fall.

A press release quotes Dr. Howard Botts , vice president and director of database development for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions:

Sandy was a harsh reminder of the potential destruction associated with storm-surge flooding, and of just how many communities are vulnerable to that risk, in areas typically assumed to be relatively safe from hurricanes along the northeastern Atlantic shoreline.†

According to I.I.I. facts and statistics on flood insurance, Hurricane Sandy was the sixth costliest U.S. flood, based on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) payouts as of March 7, 2013.