Slower Winds Means Florence May Cost Private Insurers Less
Before making landfall, the storm weakened significantly, largely sparing the bigger inland population centers of the Carolinas. While Florence did wreak havoc with record flooding, private insurers typically aren’t on the hook for those losses, which tend to be covered by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program.
In the days before Florence hit North Carolina on Sept. 14 as a Category 1 storm, catastrophe modeler Risk Management Solutions looked at potential historical benchmarks of $15 billion to $20 billion in covered losses for insurers from wind and coastal storm surge damage.
Last week, AIR Worldwide, a unit of Verisk Analytics Inc., said insured losses would be between $1.7 billion and $4.6 billion. Another firm, Karen Clark & Co., put the figure at $2.5 billion. Those estimates exclude damage from flooding covered under the National Flood Insurance Program. Risk Management Solutions hasn’t publicly released an estimate of covered losses since the storm dissipated.
“The losses were low because it was a Category 1, but it was enhanced a little bit because of the duration,” said AIR Worldwide director of meteorology Peter Sousounis. “Storm surge was reflective of a much more significant storm, the wind was not.”
Prior to Florence’s landfall, the storm slowed from Category 4 winds to Category 1 speeds. That spared private insurers from facing higher losses tied to wind damage, which they’d typically be on the hook for.