It’s the Time of the Season
Robert Regis Hyle | May 27, 2014
Most people look forward to the start of a new season, unless, of course, it’s storm season and you are an insurance carrier. We’re just four days away from the start of what insurers hope and pray will be a second straight calm hurricane season.
Globally, insured losses were down about 25 percent in 2013 and in the U.S., insured storm damages were just (don’t you just love that word) $19 billion, according to Swiss Re. Remember the old days when $19 billion in losses would freak out the entire industry? This year we would celebrate another “mild” storm season with a ticker-tape parade if it had $19 billion in insured losses.
Insurers are ready for much worse than that because that’s the nature of the industry, but reports that the 2014 hurricane season will be less active than in previous years are certainly welcome news. Predicting such storms is a tricky business and as much as forecasting and modeling have improved in recent years, there are too many variables to enter June with any real confidence that things will go well for property & casualty insurers this year.
For those of us not living along the gulf or Atlantic coast, storm season has been in high gear for a couple of months now as inland states deal with the less costly but more unpredictable nature of tornados. Those in the path of a hurricane usually know several days in advance that a storm is headed their way. The time lag for tornados is hours—and sometimes minutes—not days.
With rare exceptions, a large tornado can hardly contend with the amount of loss a hurricane can cause when it hits a populated area. Insurers would be perfectly happy dealing with tornados as the major worry of storm season, which is why so many have done their best to avoid insuring risks in coastal areas.
Modelers will be on stand-by for the next five months keeping a close watch on potential threats to our shorelines and the reserves of insurance carriers. Expect the worst and hope for the best has always been a good rule of thumb and here’s hoping it works for another storm season.
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