A Firm Foundation: How Insurance Supports the Economy

Insured losses from hurricanes rose in the past 15 years as hurricane activity has intensified. When adjusted for inflation and after losses are tallied for the 2017 and 2018 hurricanes, nine of the 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history have struck since 2004. In addition to the increase in storm activity, construction along both the Gulf Coast and East Coast has continued to develop, and property values have increased, resulting in higher loss exposure.

The following chart from the Property Claim Services (PCS®) unit of ISO, a Verisk Analytics® business, ranks historic hurricanes based on their insured losses, adjusted for inflation. The chart beneath it, from AIR Worldwide Corp., estimates insured property losses from notable hurricanes from past years, if they were to hit the nation again today with the same meteorological parameters.

Top 10 Costliest Hurricanes In The United States (1)

($ millions)

        Estimated insured loss
Rank Date Location Hurricane Dollars when occurred In 2019 dollars (2)
1 Aug. 25-30, 2005 AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, TN Hurricane Katrina $41,100 $52,828
2 Sep. 19-22, 2017 PR, USVI Hurrican Maria (3) 25,000-30,000 26,100-31,300
3 Sep. 6-12, 2017 AL, FL, GA, NC, PR, SC, UV Hurricane Irma (3) 25,000-30,000 26,100-31,300
4 Aug. 25-Sep. 1, 2017 AL, LA, MS, NC, TN, TX Hurricane Harvey (3) 18,000-20,000 18,800-20,800
5 Oct. 28-31, 2012 CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH,
NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, VT, WV
Hurricane Sandy 18,750 21,065
6 Aug. 24-26, 1992 FL, LA Hurricane Andrew 15,500 25,867
7 Sep. 12-14, 2008 AR, IL, IN, KY, LA, MO, OH, PA, TX Hurricane Ike 12,500 20,861
8 Oct. 10-12, 2018 AL, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA Hurricane Michael 9,000-12,000 9,200-12,200
9 Oct. 24, 2005 FL Hurricane Wilma 10,300 13,239
10 Aug. 13-14, 2004 FL, NC, SC Hurricane Charley 7,475 9,906

(1) Property losses only. Excludes flood damage covered by the federally administered National Flood Insurance Program. Ranked on dollars when occurred. As of April 17,2020.
(2) Adjusted for inflation through 2019 by the Insurance Information Institute using the GDP implicit price deflator.
(3) Insurance Information Institute estimate based on data from catastrophe risk modelers, reinsurance companies, the Property Claims Services unit of Verisk Analytics, the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. These estimates are preliminary because the organizations involved periodically resurvey the events, and the severity of losses and other factors create a high level of uncertainty surrounding the ultimate loss figures.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, catastrophe risk modelers, reinsurance companies, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, the Property Claim Services® (PCS®) unit of ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® company, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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Estimated Insured Losses For The Top 10 Historical Hurricanes Based On Current Exposures (1)

($ billions)

Rank Date Event Category 2017 insured loss
1 Sep. 18, 1926 Great Miami Hurricane 4 $128
2 Sep. 17, 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane 4 78
3 Aug. 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina 3 (2) 64
4 Sep. 17, 1947 1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane 4 62
5 Sep. 9, 1965 Hurricane Betsy 4 (2) 57
6 Aug. 24, 1992 Hurricane Andrew 5 56
7 Sep. 10, 1960 Hurricane Donna 4 50
8 Sep. 21, 1938 The Great New England Hurricane 3 50
9 Sep. 9, 1900 1900 Galveston Hurricane 4 49
10 Aug. 17, 1915 1915 Galveston Hurricane 3 25

(1) Modeled loss to property, contents and business interruption and additional living expenses for residential, mobile home, commercial and auto exposures as of end-2016. Losses include demand surge and account for storm surge.
(2) Strength at second landfall in Louisiana.

Source: AIR Worldwide Corporation.

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