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Hurricane Earl Highlights Atlantic Seaboard's Insured Exposure

Source: I.I.I.

Posted on 02 Sep 2010

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North Carolina's Carteret and Dare counties are two of the most hurricane-prone municipalities in the U.S., and northeastern states such as New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maine are situated parallel to Earl’s path and have some of the highest insured coastal property values in the country, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

“Hurricane Earl has already proven to be a destructive storm, causing an estimated $50 million to $150 million in insured losses in the Caribbean,” said Dr. Robert Hartwig, president of the I.I.I. and an economist, citing figures released today by AIR Worldwide. The risk modeling firm also noted that the storm is now headed to North Carolina.

“Only Florida and Louisiana have counties that are more hurricane-prone than the ones found in North Carolina,” stated Dr. Robert Hartwig, president of the I.I.I. and an economist. Moreover, New York ($2.37 trillion) is second only to Florida ($2.45 trillion) in the U.S. terms of the cumulative value of its insured coastal properties, according to figures compiled by AIR Worldwide in 2007, Dr. Hartwig added. “While the eye of Hurricane Earl is not expected to make landfall in the U.S., property/casualty insurers are extremely well capitalized and financially prepared for any losses that might occur,” Dr. Hartwig noted.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that between 1960 and 2008 the North Carolina county of Carteret saw a 104 percent increase in its population while over this same time period the number of people residing in North Carolina’s Dare County grew by an astounding 466 percent.

In terms of coastal exposure, North Carolina’s residential and commercial properties in hurricane-prone regions of that state were insured for nearly $133 billion as of 2007. The I.I.I.’s North Carolina Hurricane Insurance Fact File for 2010 offers additional details on the state’s leading property insurers.

“Virtually no part of the eastern and southern U.S. coastline is immune from the threat of severe storm systems,” said Dr. Hartwig. “While Atlantic hurricanes rarely make landfall along the East Coast, they have enormous financial repercussions for multiple states when they do,” he said. “Insurers have generally seen the cumulative value of their in-force property insurance policies along the U.S. coastline increase since 2004, despite the stagnant economy.”