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Insurers face $330mn Storm Grace loss across Mexico & Caribbean: KCC

26th August 2021 - Author: Matt Sheehan

Catastrophe risk modeller Karen Clark & Company (KCC) has estimated that insured losses from Tropical Storm Grace will be $300 million in Mexico and $30 million in the Caribbean, for a total of $330 million.

Hurricane Grace at peak intensity, shortly before making landfall in Veracruz on August 21st.

This estimate includes the privately insured damage to residential, commercial, and industrial properties.

In the Caribbean, Grace made landfall in Guadeloupe and Montserrat on August 14th with 40mph maximum sustained winds, Haiti and the Dominican Republic on August 16th with 35mph winds, and Jamaica on August 17th with 50mph winds.

However, few regions experienced notable wind damage, as tropical storm force winds downed trees and powerlines in Jamaica, while hurricane force winds affected buildings in the Cayman Islands either by damaging roof coverings or bringing down trees.

Heavy rainfall also produced scattered floods in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Haiti, which is still recovering from a Magnitude 7.2 earthquake that occurred a few days before Grace made landfall.

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Turning to Mexico, Grace made two subsequent landfalls, first near Tulum with 80mph winds on August 19th and then near Tecolutla with winds of 125mph on August 21st.

Category 1 wind speeds in the Yucatan Peninsula resulted in widespread low-level wind damage, with extensive damage to light metal roofs, appurtenant structures, and residential buildings, but much more minimal damage to heavy concrete buildings.

Downed trees throughout the region also contributed to power outages to nearly 700,000 customers and caused scattered structural damage.

On the second landfall in Central Mexico, KCC notes that buildings proved more vulnerable to wind impacts, given that this region has historically experienced fewer hurricanes.

Category 3 wind speeds resulted in extensive damage near the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, and frequent damage to envelope openings, roof covering and decking, and siding was observed. Throughout the affected region, trees and utility poles were also damaged.

Inland locations also experienced wind damage, mainly from downed trees and powerlines, while light metal roofs and other highly vulnerable building components also sustained damage.

In addition to high winds, Grace brought heavy rain that saturated soils and overwhelmed drainage networks, impacting in particular the states of Hidalgo, Puebla, and Veracruz.

KCC reports that surface and riverine flooding washed out roadways and inundated residential and commercial businesses throughout the affected region, while landslides also contributed to infrastructure disruption, making roadways impassable, and caused damage to some residential buildings.

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