Hurricane Irma will hammer insurance industry with at least $15 billion in claims, study shows

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  • The insurance industry will need to brace for billions in claims related to Hurrican Irma, a firm has projected.
  • Irma reached the Florida Keys on Saturday.
  • The hurricane is expected to sweep through Florida and into Georgia.

Hurricane Irma will create combined insured losses of between $20 billion and $65 billion, according to a projection from risk modeling software company AIR Worldwide.

The company includes in its estimate both the United States and selected islands in the Caribbean. For the U.S. alone, insured losses are expected to reach between $15 billion to $50 billion, AIR notes.

Although the final costs of Hurricane Harvey are still being tallied, the more powerful Irma has brought Florida to a standstill and is likely to pack a financial wallop along with its human toll.

Amid widespread disaster preparations, analysts expect that the government will bear the brunt of these losses, with $2 to $4 billion expected to fall to private insurance companies.

“According to AIR, in Florida, close to 80 percent of the total insured value is located in coastal counties, where the amount and value of exposure has been growing significantly for decades,” the report noted.

The Miami area is the southeast’s most densely populated region, AIR states, and since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 has maintained strict codes for hurricane damage.

“As in the case of the 2004 hurricane season, significant damage may be expected to roof covers related to installation and attachment methods,” AIR wrote. “Manufactured homes are vulnerable to significant damage during hurricanes and their performance tends to be a function of age and of the regulations under which the home was constructed and installed.”

According to the latest reports, Hurricane Irma’s strong winds and heavy rain have already reached the Florida Keys. The Category 3 storm is expected to push further into the state, and may yet strengthen once more when it hits Florida’s west coast.
CNBC

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