Risk tracker RMS predicts up to $5 billion in insured losses from Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence caused between $2.8 billion and $5 billion in insured losses when it blew into North Carolina earlier this month, according to an estimate from global risk modeling firm RMS.

Wind alone caused damage worth between $1.3 billion and $2.6 billion, with storm-surge and inland flooding damages totaling between $700 million and $1.2 billion. The company’s Monday estimates also include losses to the National Flood Insurance Program, which is expected to lose between $800 million and $1.2 billion.

These estimations include property damage and business interruption in residential, commercial, industrial and automobile businesses. That also includes damage to infrastructure and blocked access to damaged areas, which delay businesses reopening and prevent residents from returning.

Florence’s worst damage stemmed from heavy rains and floods.

“While wind-driven damages will still be sizable, the story of this storm is the flood impacts,” said Mohsen Rahnama, chief risk modeling officer at RMS. “Florence’s slow-moving nature brought historic rainfall and flooding to the Carolinas.”

The firm expects some 70 percent of the region’s total losses to be uninsured.

Factoring in uninsured losses, RMS expects the total economic loss to range between $6 billion and $11 billion. That doesn’t even include roads, utilities and government-owned property, which usually are not insured or self-insured.

“Florence is yet another large inland flood event that exposes the protection gap for flood insurance in the U.S.,” Rahnama said. “Thus, we expect much of the losses in interior portions of the region to be largely uninsured.”

Hurricane Florence, which came ashore as a Category 1 storm, has already been compared to some of the most devastating hurricanes in recent history. It was the first hurricane to make landfall in North Carolina since Hurricane Irene in 2011.

When it was still churning in the Atlantic, Florence was a Category 3, sustaining winds of 127 miles per hour and making Florence one of the most intense storms in recent history.

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