Storm commentary: Hurricane Fiona and Ian
Our dedicated, specialist teams provide a storm overview covering the impact and potential consequences from their different perspectives.
Commentary was written on 6 October
There were two points of entry into the US (Florida & South Carolina). Ian’s initial storm speeds CAT 4 Florida – CAT 1 South Carolina.
Using our own mapping tool, Miller secured loss funds from lead contracts within 48 hours from when the storm first hit landfall. These loss funds will be adjusted once we receive actual loss information from the TPA’s who are handling this event on behalf of underwriters. Additionally, post storm, we were able to provide useful risk data to the TPA’s in order for them to ensure adequate resource for our clients.
Commercial property open market
As the days pass since Hurricane Ian first made landfall in Cayo Costa, near Fort Myers FL on 28 September as a Category 4 hurricane and two days later in Georgetown, SC as a category 1 storm, the extent to which this would be a human tragedy quickly became clear. At time of writing, the US death toll appears to have exceeded 100 lives including 4 in South Carolina.
Whilst the storm produced winds with speeds of up to 150mph at the time of its Florida landfall, the catastrophic levels of accompanying surge affected a broad swathe of southwest Florida including areas near Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Port Charlotte, Cape Coral, Naples and Marco Island.
Surge levels will require further analysis, however reports of gauge readings recorded at least seven feet in Fort Myers, six feet in Naples and four feet in Key West. As Ian travelled inland, it brought rainfall of some 10 to 20 inches in some areas with most notable inland flooding suffered in DeSoto, Orange and Seminole counties.
The major risk modellers Verisk (formerly AIR) and RMS currently see loss estimates of between USD 42bn – USD 57bn and USD 20bn to USD 88bn respectively (the impact to South Carolina in terms of loss estimate considered to be around USD 1bn in contrast). Add to the well-known fact that we live in inflationary times, which will only serve to exacerbate the impact of demand surge and the higher end of the mean point of both these ranges could well be realised.
Most commercial property placements with Florida exposure are placed and renewed ahead of the wind season, and so with renewals written by Lloyd’s and International markets not due to be underwritten in the main until Q1 & Q2 2023, it is too early to opine as to the level of rate increase and changes to terms and conditions that carriers will require, but a retraction in capacity would seem highly likely.
Katrina remains the most-costly US natural catastrophe event at USD 96bn (inflation adjusted and including NFIP), Ian could perhaps come a close second?
Fiona The storm has created significant economic impact to Atlantic Canada, but insured loss estimates will be a smaller fraction (currently range from CAD USD 300m to USD 700m).
Whilst Fiona has the potential to be a top 10 natural catastrophe loss in Canadian history, it is unlikely to be the country’s costliest event this year. The May Derecho that hit Ontario and Quebec is currently estimated at CAD USD 875m (ranking 6th in Canadian history).
Fiona and the May Derecho are unlikely to have a direct/significant impact on the broader reinsurance industry. However, they contribute to the narrative that natural catastrophes are increasing in frequency and severity in all regions. This is translating into poor returns for capital providers and ultimately investor fatigue, which is a concern for the Bermuda market (particularly the ILS space).
Ian Based on the RMS update released Friday, vendor model industry loss estimates currently range from USD 28bn to USD 74bn (excluding NFIP).
The wide range from the vendor models reflects the difficulty in assessing each of the loss causing elements i.e. wind, coastal storm surge and inland flooding. There are many factors that can impact industry loss estimates such as take-up rates, coverage leakage, inflation, and regulatory/market uncertainties.
The Miller Reinsurance team views the USD 36bn to USD 48bn sub-range as the most likely outcome at this time. This is supported by our internally developed county-level estimate model, which is similar to the vendor models in that many factors could move our figures up or down. For example, whilst our current range is less than USD 50bn we have low confidence that the fully settled loss could not creep beyond this level.
The market impact and consequences can vary dramatically between a USD 30bn event and a USD 50bn event. This is particularly true for the ILS market, which will suffer more significant trapping and capital deployment problems on higher loss estimates.
Regardless, Ian will contribute to investor fatigue. Despite being a “well modelled” event, Ian comes on the heels of investor losses stemming largely from “secondary perils”, which have called into question the market’s ability to adequately price deals.
Various industry modelling agencies have identified Hurricane Ian as a significant event, with overall loss estimates ranging from USD40 – USD74bn.
Using our proprietary software, we are able to clarify exposures in real time and assess damage potential using storm tracks; this enables us to quickly work with our clients, insurers and adjusters to focus on specific areas of concern. Loss funds for this event were in place within 48 hours of landfall, a crucial element of our claims response, which will ensure detailed coordination and communication of on-the-ground knowledge and data as we service our agents and their policyholders at this critical time.
It remains to be seen how the loss itself will breakdown across sectors such as property, auto, aviation and marine. For property specifically, wind losses versus flood will also become more evident over the coming weeks.
If you would like any more information, our specialist teams are here to help.