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, 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 Aon 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 Year Hurricane Dollars when occurred In 2020 dollars (2)
1 2005 Hurricane Katrina $65,000 $86,570
2 2012 Hurricane Sandy 30,000 33,930
3 2017 Hurricane Harvey 30,000 31,960
4 2017 Hurricane Irma 29,900 31,850
5 2017 Hurricane Maria 29,670 31,270
6 1992 Hurricane Andrew 16,000 29,700
7 2008 Hurricane Ike 18,200 21,760
8 2005 Hurricane Wilma 10,670 14,010
9 2018 Hurricane Michael 13,250 13,710
10 2004 Hurricane Ivan 8,720 12,060

(1) Includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program. Includes hurricanes that occurred through 2020. Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. As of February, 2021. Ranked on insured losses in 2020 dollars.
(2) Adjusted for inflation by Aon using the U.S. Consumer Price Index.

Source: Aon.

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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 year-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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