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Insurers may face $0.5bn hurricane loss

Storm damage: a street in Cedar Key, Florida is blocked from debris washed up from the tidal surge of Hurricane Hermine yesterday

The first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since 2005 will likely generate insurance losses approaching $500 million.

That’s the view of Karen Clark & Company, US-based experts in catastrophe loss estimation, whose projections for Hurricane Hermine also found that economic losses will be close to $1 billion.

The category one storm made landfall near St Marks, Florida at 1.30am today with estimated peak sustained winds of 80mph.

“The storm moved across the northern part of the state and into Georgia, travelling at 15mph,” KCC said tonight in a statement.

“The hurricane generated storm surge heights between six and nine feet along the Florida Panhandle and northwest coastal region.”

According to KCC, the storm is likely to produce over 50,000 claims, primarily to residential properties and autos, and spread across the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The decade-plus absence of Florida hurricanes was unprecedented in weather records. Before 2005, the longest period without a Florida landfall was six years.

The dearth of storms has been one of the factors that have decreased the rates that Bermuda’s reinsurers could charge for their coverage in recent years.

KCC expects the storm to cause power outages, destruction from falling trees, coastal flooding damage and low-level wind damage to roofs and siding.

As of 4pm Florida time today, there were more than 250,000 customers without power in Florida and Georgia.

The storm is expected to continue travelling up the US East Coast through Saturday and potentially stall off the coast of New Jersey on Sunday.