Reinsurance News

Hurricane Zeta’s insured property loss put at $4.4bn by KCC

2nd November 2020 - Author: Matt Sheehan

Catastrophe risk modeller Karen Clark & Company (KCC) has estimated that the insured loss to onshore properties caused by Hurricane Zeta will be close to $4.4 billion.

This figure includes $4.3 billion of wind and storm surge losses in the US and $80 million of wind losses in Mexico.

KCC explained that its estimate includes the privately insured wind and storm surge damage to residential, commercial, and industrial properties and automobiles, but not NFIP losses or losses to offshore assets.

Hurricane Zeta made two landfalls, first in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 1 storm on October 24th, and again in the US as a Category 2 storm on October 28th.

It was the fifth named storm and the third hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana this season, with 2020 now tied with 1985 for the year with the most landfalling hurricanes.

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This is also only the second time that meteorologists have had to pull names from the Greek alphabet, having exhausted the conventional names this year and in 2005.

Zeta hit the Yucatan Peninsula with maximum sustained wind speeds of 80 mph, bringing wind, heavy rains and storm surge flooding to Cancun and other resort towns along the Peninsula. However, analysts at KCC believe that the area largely managed to avoid significant damage.

Four days later, Zeta made landfall in Louisiana with wind speeds approaching 110 mph, before accelerating over land and moving rapidly through southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia.

According to KCC, widespread structural damage due to direct wind impacts was limited to small towns in coastal areas of southeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi.

New Orleans experienced light wind damage to roofs and facades and isolated instances of structural damage caused by fallen trees.

But because of the fast forward speed and slow decay rate, Zeta caused widespread damage hundreds of miles inland, particularly in northern Georgia and around Atlanta, due to downed trees and power lines.

KCC anticipates that insured losses are likely to be highest in Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia.

Power outages extended across the southeast from Louisiana to Virginia, and at the height of the storm, more than 2.5 million customers lost power.

Zeta also brought destructive coastal flooding with it that caused damage in southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and southwestern Alabama.

Three breaches in Gran Isle’s levee, which was already damaged by Cristobal earlier this year, caused flooding to coastal structures in Louisiana.

Additionally, Mississippi saw significant flooding from storm surge in coastal areas including Biloxi and Pass Christian. Impacted areas in Alabama include Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Mobile.

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