Insurers are braced for between $28 billion and $47 billion in claims from what could amount to the costliest Florida storm since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, according to US property data and analytics company CoreLogic.
Other estimates vary but the scale of the loss will be considerable. The Insurance Information Institute, for example, estimates that Ian has caused at least $30 billion in damage.
According to Fitch Ratings, Florida is expected to have substantial economic and insured losses from hurricane Ian from heavy rainfall, storm surge and flooding:
“Based on our initial analysis, insured losses could range from $25 billion-$40 billion for Florida, which could increase depending on the effect of the storm in the Carolinas. This compares to Hurricane Katrina’s $65 billion in 2005, winter storm Uri – $15 billion in 2021 and Hurricane Ida – $36 billion in 2021.”
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has forecast “major to record flooding” to continue in central Florida.
The NHC that said heavy additional rainfall was possible across portions of West Virginia and western Maryland over the weekend.
Damage from storm surge is understood to be considerable. Satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed beach cottages and a motel that lined the shores of Florida’s Sanibel Island had been demolished by storm surges, for example.
At least 77 storm-related deaths have been confirmed since Ian crashed ashore Florida’s Gulf Coast with catastrophic force on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles (240 km) per hour.
Florida accounted for the bulk of fatalities, with 35 tallied by the sheriff’s office in coastal Lee County, which bore the brunt of the storm when it made landfall, and 11 other deaths reported by state officials in four neighbouring counties.
North Carolina authorities said at least four more people had been killed there. No deaths were immediately reported in South Carolina, where Ian made its second US landfall on Friday (30 September) as a category 1 hurricane.
The American Red Cross has described Ian as one of the largest natural disasters ever to hit Florida, and has sent more than 1,000 disaster workers to provide shelter and food for the homeless.
According to Fitch Ratings, Hurricane Ian is expected to generate substantial economic and insured losses in affected areas but is not likely to affect credit for rated property/casualty (PC) (re)insurers given ample capital levels and the ability to increase premium rates.
However, it added, Florida insurance specialists that are unrated by Fitch have suffered financial losses and diminished capital in recent years remain vulnerable to large catastrophic events that generate losses in excess of reinsurance limits.