Storm Claims Could Top $100 Billion; for Puerto Rico, 'Maria Changes Everything'
Insured losses from Harvey, which flooded Houston and stopped its oil and plastics plants, are estimated at $17 billion, down a bit from earlier projections.
by Joseph N. DiStefano, Philly.com
(TNS) — Far from the wreckage of the Caribbean and the Gulf, the misery of 3.4 million people in powerless Puerto Rico and more in the storm-blasted islands to its east, the damage-counters are estimating that claims from this summer’s hurricanes could top $100 billion — many times the usual season losses, a figure that “focuses the mind,” stock analyst Larry Greenberg writes in a report to clients of Philadelphia-based Janney Montgomery Scott.
Insured losses from Harvey, which flooded Houston and stopped its oil and plastics plants, are estimated at $17 billion, down a bit from earlier projections, as Allstate and Progressive report fewer flooded-car claims than feared. It also helps insurers, but not Texans, that many of the Houston residents whose homes were ruined by water that wasn’t supposed to reach so high weren’t insured.
Irma, which socked Florida and the Caribbean, is expected to cost $30 billion, Greenberg notes. Maria, which smashed Puerto Rico and the neighboring U.S., French, Dutch, British and independent islands a second time, could go as high as $85 billion. Big insurers such as AIG and Chubb will take big hits. Reinsurers should spread much of the loss among international insurers and investors, but the bottom line is that everyone’s property-insurance premiums, which have been “soft” the last few years, are likely to rise.