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Hurricane Ian estimated to cost more than $100bn

Water floods a damaged trailer park in Fort Myers, Florida Saturday after Hurricane Ian passed by the area (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A leading catastrophe modeller says Hurricane Ian’s total costs will exceed $100 billion and be the most expensive hurricane Florida has ever seen.

And the Karen Clark & Company flash estimate has now put the privately insured losses from the hurricane at close to $63 billion, with $200 million in the Caribbean and the rest from wind, storm surge and inland flood losses in the US.

A massive effort, including rescue and recovery, is under way to address coast to coast devastation in Florida, with a rising death toll and what may be a near complete loss of a tourism industry that employed more than a million people, and serviced some 120 million visitors annually.

KC&C said: “In nominal dollars, Hurricane Ian will be the largest hurricane loss in Florida history. The total economic damage will be well over $100 billion, including uninsured properties, damage to infrastructure, and other cleanup and recovery costs.”

The US projection includes: insured loss to residential and autos, commercial, and industrial properties; building, contents, and time element losses; privately insured loss from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding; estimated demand surge and estimated impacts of excess litigation in Florida.

But this $63 billion estimate is for those privately insured and does not include: losses claimed through the US National Flood Insurance Programme; boats and offshore properties; uninsured flood losses; uninsured wind losses (e.g. loss under deductibles).

The report states: “Hurricane Ian will be a challenging storm for insurers due to the tremendous amount of coastal flooding and the unique nature of the Florida market with respect to a likely high proportion of litigated claims.

“KCC experts model wind, storm surge, and inland flooding separately and then estimate the proportion of each peril that will be covered by the private market. It is assumed that some flood damage will be paid by insurers even if not explicitly covered.

“Over the past few years, KCC experts have analysed the trends in litigated claims in Florida and other states. While legislative and policy changes should help to reduce the proportion of litigated claims relative to Hurricane Irma, the large proportion of properties with both wind and water damage may induce more litigation.

“The KCC estimate includes a comparable proportion of excess litigation as occurred in Hurricane Irma.”

Ian began as a tropical depression that formed in the Central Caribbean Sea on Friday, September 23. The storm underwent rapid intensification while in the Caribbean Sea before making landfall near La Coloma, Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125mph during the early morning of September 27.

After crossing Cuba, Ian again intensified rapidly just off the coast of southwest Florida with peak winds increasing from 120mph to 155mph (almost Category 5) in less than 10 hours. This intensification proceeded from an eyewall replacement cycle that completed the night before landfall and caused the windfield to expand.

Ian made landfall in Florida just after at 3pm on September 28 near Cayo Costa with 150mph winds. Its second US landfall was near Caines, South Carolina at 3pm on September 30 as a Category 1 hurricane with 85mph winds.

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Published October 03, 2022 at 7:31 am (Updated October 04, 2022 at 6:06 am)

Hurricane Ian estimated to cost more than $100bn

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