About 57,000 Florida homes were at risk from a coastal storm surge as Hurricane Michael approached the United States on Tuesday, and a number of insurers face potential liabilities from the storm.
Catastrophe modeler RMS predicted the hurricane would make landfall Wednesday afternoon as a Category 3 storm (It increased to Category 4 overnight), likely near Panama City, Fla.. Florida, Alabama and Georgia appeared to be the most vulnerable states in the storm, according to A.M. Best data.
Insurers that face potential liabilities from the storm include Universal Insurance Holdings Group, the top property/casualty insurer in Florida in terms of direct premiums written, followed by State Farm Group, which is number one P/C carrier in nearby Alabama by the same measurement, the A.M. Best data indicated. Other carriers at risk from the storm in both states include Tower Hill Group, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and Heritage Insurance Holdings Group in Florida; and Alfa Insurance Group, Allstate, USAA Group and Farmers in Alabama. State Farm, Berkshire Hathway, Progressive and Allstate were among carriers with the most business Georgia, the A.M. Best data showed.
CoreLogic said that the anticipated coastal storm surge would place 57,000 homes across Florida alone at risk, representing more than $13 billion in potential reconstruction costs.
RMS said that the storm was expected to be a fast moving event that would, after hitting land on Wednesday, enter the Atlantic near Norfolk, Va. overnight on Thursday, likely at tropical strength.
Flood won’t be a large loss driver with Michael, RMS said, as modelers expect a maximum of 10 inches of rain from the storm over the Florida panhandle and southern Georgia. That’s much better than the 20 to 30 inches of rain that hit much of the Carolinas from Hurricane Florence, though both North and South Carolina could get another six inches of rain from the new storm, exacerbating flood recovery efforts.
Storm surge, on the other hand, could be a problem in the Big Bend region of Florida, with projections as of Tuesday of more than nine feet, according to RMS forecasts.
Sources: CoreLogic, RMS, A.M. Best