Flood, water damage help make Hurricane Ian 2nd most damaging storm of all time

by | Dec 2, 2022

  • One of the world’s leading insurance analytics companies says Ian is the 2nd most damaging storm of all time in terms of insured losses
  • Ian currently holds the world record for 2022’s single worst weather-related catastrophe, topping winter storms, hail, and flooding events across the globe
  • The report estimates total insured losses at $50-65 billion
  • Flood insurance claims are approaching $1 billion
  • Lawmakers meet December 12 to address Florida’s worsening property insurance crisis

A new report from one of the world’s leading industry analytics companies estimates Hurricane Ian to be the second-costliest insured loss ever, second only 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. The report, issued by Zurich-based Swiss Re, estimated preliminary insured losses in the range of $50-65 billion. The company pointed to Florida’s coastal development as part of the reason for the high cost.

“Urban development, wealth accumulation in disaster-prone areas, inflation and climate change are key factors at play, turning extreme weather into ever rising natural catastrophe losses,” said Martin Bertogg, who leads the company’s Catastrophe Perils analysis division at Swiss Re. “When Hurricane Andrew struck 30 years ago, a $20 billion loss event had never occurred before,” Bertogg noted. “Now there have been seven such hurricanes in just the past six years.”

Part of those total estimated losses were from flooding. A report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said that payouts from the National Flood Insurance Program have now topped $882 million to mitigate water damage incurred from the storm or its aftereffects. The new number jumped considerably over the course of the week, up from $793 million on Monday, and is expected to continue climbing as insurance adjusters continue to process claims.

To date, the program has received roughly 44,700 claims related to Hurricane Ian. The storm made landfall September 28th near Fort Myers, coming ashore there as a Category 4 storm, but quickly moved inland, bringing heavy rains, wind and flooding across the state.

Worldwide, Hurricane Ian was the single most damaging event of 2022, beating out severe winter storms in Europe, extreme flooding in Australia and South Africa, and hailstorms wreaking havoc across the U.S. and France. Together, the world’s weather-related catastrophes caused an estimated total economic loss of $260 billion in 2022, well above the 10-year average of $207 billion, and insurance losses from catastrophes estimated at about $115 billion, also higher than the 10-year average of $81 billion, the Swiss Re report said.

Lawmakers in Florida are slated to convene on December 12th to consider legislation aimed at reducing costs for insurers and making property insurance more affordable for homeowners.



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