2019 Hurricane Season Threatens Properties in Weather-Worn Regions

Storm activity during the 2019 hurricane season is forecasted to produce between two and four major hurricanes with winds higher than 111 mph, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NOAA defines this level of hurricane activity as normal for the season. However, recent trends in weather activity and the impacts of an aging housing market suggest even normal hurricane activity have the potential to result in complex recovery patterns.

The Landscape of U.S. Disaster Recovery Has Shifted

The U.S. property landscape has changed substantially in the past two years. A series of wildfires in California have negated the idea of a true wildfire season and hurricanes are manifesting in different forms, leading to unexpected repairs, like heavy flooding rather than wind damage.

This year, the U.S. has already seen a historic and widespread bout of flood activity and convective storms. As a result, in regions that see the frequent impact of severe weather, the housing stock is likely susceptible to increased risk. On the heels of these severe events, there are a few ways carriers can better prepare for the 2019 hurricane season.

Hurricane Recovery Timelines Shed Light on the True Window for Repair Activity

The average hurricane recovery window is 10.7 months, an estimate that takes into account recovery following 11 major hurricanes between 2000 and 2018. However, this timeline can change substantially based on the type of hurricane and environment it impacts. For instance, recently, more property damage has resulted from storm surge as opposed to high winds and oftentimes in areas that do not expect high flood risk. As a result, it’s particularly important that carriers monitor already nebulous recovery timelines, which may be longer or shorter based on anticipated damage. In turn, this allows the claims department to clearly define the window for expected and completed repairs.

Additionally, a clearer picture of rebuilding efforts following a storm helps insurers to counter loss creep – when insured losses continue to rise well after a natural disaster. The last few years suggest that this is an increasingly common phenomenon for carriers.

Repeat Weather Events May Exacerbate Claims Fraud

Overlapping recovery amidst hurricane season has become even more widespread in the past few years, especially in Florida and Texas. For instance, in Florida, just a year after Irma, Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Panhandle. Now, recovery from Michael is winding down, but this past spring, a rise in wildfires caused even more damage to infrastructure and properties across the region. This wildfire activity was exacerbated by trees, downed during Hurricane Michael, which are strewn across the region.

Meanwhile, Texas and the Midwest have also seen elevated weather in the months leading up to 2019 hurricane season. Convective storms have been particularly active this spring leading to widespread flooding and severe hail storms. Unfortunately, a rise in severe weather is typically followed by increased claims fraud. However, carriers can use insights from repairs to validate that properties see full recovery head of 2019 hurricane season.

For more insight on elevating your hurricane response strategy, contact us today.