By Noor Zainab Hussain
(Reuters) -Insurers are bracing for a hit of up to $57 billion as they try to assess the damage from Hurricane Ian in Florida and South Carolina, risk modeling firm Verisk said on Monday.
The industry projection includes estimated wind, storm surge, and inland flood losses resulting from Ian’s landfalls in the two states, Verisk said.
However, the estimate range, the low end of which was at $42 billion, does not include elements such as losses to the National Flood Insurance Program and any potential impacts of litigation or social inflation that could lead to a total insured industry loss of $60 billion.
The death toll from Hurricane Ian climbed past 80 on Sunday as embattled residents in Florida and the Carolinas grappled with a recovery expected to cost tens of billions of dollars, and some officials faced criticism over their response to the storm.
Additionally, an estimated 628,285 homes and businesses were still without power in Florida early on Monday after Hurricane Ian crashed across the state last week.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is monitoring Florida state insurance claims, manager Deanne Criswell told reporters Monday en route to Puerto Rico, adding “We’ll have to have a longer conversation about long-term impacts to the insurance industry.”
Industry experts already expect insurers will go into bankruptcy, homeowners will be forced into delinquency and insurance will become less accessible in regions like Florida.
Recovery is expected to be slow and difficult due to inflation, high interest rates, and labor and materials costs, with litigation posing further complications for claims.
“For Ian, we expect that some of the claims’ closers will take more than a year due to potential litigation,” Mohsen Rahnama, chief risk modeling officer at catastrophe risk modeling firm RMS, said.
“Basically, I believe this event will change the Florida insurance market landscape,” he added.
About 1% of the total industry loss will come from the impacts of Ian’s South Carolina landfall, Verisk said.
U.S. property data and analytics company CoreLogic on Friday pegged insured losses for Florida between $28 billion and $47 billion from Hurricane Ian, in what could be the costliest storm for the state since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Jeff Mason; Editing by Andrea Ricci)