Canadian Underwriter

Estimated insured losses from Hurricane Matthew for U.S., Caribbean between US$2.8 billion and US$8.8 billion: AIR

October 13, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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Modelled insured losses from Hurricane Matthew could range from US$2.2 billion to US$6.8 billion for the United States and US$600 million to US$2.0 billion for the Caribbean, notes an estimate issued Thursday by AIR Worldwide.

Hurricane Matthew affected the Caribbean and the southeastern coastline of the U.S. for almost two weeks, notes a statement from the Boston-based catastrophe modelling firm, a Verisk Analytics business.

In the U.S., Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia were affected, including power outages affecting millions of homes and businesses, and the evacuation of more than 3 million people.

In some locations, winds reached upwards of 100 mph, storm surge was as high as nine feet and as much as 17 inches of rain was reported, AIR reports.

Related: U.S. insurers to pay about US$7 billion for storm surge, inland flooding and wind damages from Hurricane Matthew: Karen Clark & Company

By state, AIR notes that the effects of Matthew include the following:

  • Florida witnessed downed trees, powerlines and signs; stripped off awnings, siding and other non-structural building features; eroded beaches and washed away boats and automobiles; roofs peeled off many homes and businesses; and some damage to roofs, windows and siding, as well as some water intrusion, to NASA’s rocket launch facility at Cape Canaveral.
  • Georgia saw a dome of water pushed into river inlets and low-lying areas near Savannah; more than a foot of rain in some locations, leaving roads, homes and businesses inundated; wind damage in Savannah that primarily caused downed trees, especially in residential neighborhoods; and storm surge near Tybee Island that reached record levels of almost 15 feet.
  • South Carolina saw Hilton Head Island experience surge damage and damage to marinas; flooding to much of downtown Charleston, affecting several communities near the river and many businesses; and storm surge and beach erosion in beachfront communities along the South Carolina coast, including Myrtle Beach.

Matthew passed through the Windward Islands and Barbados as a tropical storm on Sept. 28 and strengthened by the following afternoon to become the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season’s fifth hurricane, notes the AIR statement.

Becoming a major hurricane, the storm reached its peak intensity, as a Category 5 hurricane with 160 mph winds, on Oct. 1.

By Oct. 4, it had reduced to a Category 4 storm and later a Category 3 storm, affecting western Haiti, eastern Cuba and the Windward Passage to the Bahamas.

Matthew continued to weaken as it made its way along the southeastern coast of the U.S., making landfall as a Category 1 storm in McClellanville, South Carolina, 40 miles northeast of Charleston on Oct. 8.

With winds of 75 miles per hour, “by this time, Matthew was rapidly losing tropical characteristics, and strong vertical shear caused continued weakening, although impacts continued to be felt, particularly by storm surge and heavy inland flooding,” AIR notes.

Related: Insured residential, commercial property losses from Hurricane Matthew estimated to be US$4 billion to US$6 billion: CoreLogic

Among other things, AIR’s modelled insured loss estimates for the U.S. include insured physical damage to property, both structures and their contents; additional living expenses (ALE) for residential claims; insured physical damage to structures and contents, and business interruption directly caused by storm surge, for commercial lines; direct and indirect losses for insured risks that experience physical loss for business interruption; 100% of storm surge damage for the automobile line; and demand surge.

The estimates do not reflect such factors as losses paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program, losses to uninsured properties, losses to infrastructure and losses from hazardous waste clean-up, vandalism or civil commotion, whether directly or indirectly caused by the event.

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