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Re/insurers could face $3bn loss from Dorian in the Caribbean: AIR Worldwide

6th September 2019 - Author: Matt Sheehan

Catastrophe risk modelling firm AIR Worldwide has estimated that industry insured losses resulting from Hurricane Dorian’s impact in the Caribbean will be between US $1.5 billion and $3 billion.

Dorian is currently moving northeast away from the coast of North Carolina at 14 mph, having weakened considerably during its track along the US coastline, with wind speeds now at 90 mph, or Category 1 strength (74-95 mph).

Hurricane-force winds continue to lash the NC coastline, but overall the US appears to have escaped the worst of Dorian, which has hugged length of the east coast but only made brief landfall in Cape Hatteras, NC, before moving back offshore.

The Caribbean, however, was less fortunate. Dorian made landfall in the Virgin Islands before continuing on to the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm with winds of more than 185 mph.

At this intensity, Dorian was the second strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and by far the most powerful on record to impact the Bahamas.

After achieving its peak intensity during landfall, Dorian’s forward speed decreased, and it effectively stalled for nearly a day over Grand Bahama Island.

Due to Dorian’s track, much of the Caribbean experienced little or no damage outside of the Bahamas.

Reports suggest that some areas of the island have been utterly devastated, with the International Red Cross estimating that 45% of the homes on Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands have been severely damaged or destroyed, representing some 13,000 properties.

Witnesses said there is “nothing left” in the Marsh Harbour area of the Abaco Islands, and the current death toll of 30 is expecting to rise significantly. UN officials believe some 70,000 people in the Bahamas are in “immediate need” of aid.

According to AIR Worldwide, damages include roofs torn off buildings, felled trees, widespread flooding of streets and homes, and cars, boats and debris strewn everywhere.

Catastrophe risk modeller Karen Clark & Company (KCC) earlier provided a preliminary total loss estimate of $7 billion for the impact of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

AIR’s insured loss estimate of $1-3 billion for the Caribbean includes damage to onshore residential, commercial, and industrial properties and their contents, as well as automobiles, time element coverage, and storm surge.

It does not include loss to offshore properties, pleasure boats, and marine craft, losses to infrastructure, losses from hazardous waste clean-up, vandalism, or civil commotion, demand surge, losses resulting from the compromise of existing defences, losses to uninsured properties, and other non-modelled losses, including loss adjustment expenses.

Dorian continues to threaten parts of the NC coast with life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds, but the storm is forecast to accelerate northeastward during the next 24-36 hours, then passing well southeast of southern New England tonight and into Saturday.

Following this, Dorian will likely move over Nova Scotia, Canada on Saturday or Sunday night, before continuing its northeastward motion across Newfoundland and into the far north Atlantic.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects Dorian to slowly weaken over the next 24 hours, after which it will likely undergo extratropical transition and become a “large and powerful post-tropical low.”

It still remains unclear whether the transition will be complete before Dorian reaches Nova Scotia, but regardless of its hurricane status the storm is expected to bring strong winds, storm surge, and heavy rains to parts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

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