Hurricanes, Floods, Losses O’ My!

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Hurricane & Flood Losses

In the insurance world, a catastrophe refers to an event in which insurers anticipate claims of at least $25 million, and where thresholds are met on the number of claimants and insurers against whom claims are filed. The statistics below on losses from hurricanes and flooding reveal many catastrophic events within the last few years.

Hurricanes

Nearly 40 percent of catastrophic events come from hurricanes and tropical storms. These events bring devastation in the form of high winds, storm surges and torrential rains. While wind certainly contributes to damages, flooding can inflict an extremely heavy and overwhelming toll on property holders and communities. The flooding aspect of tropical systems place many communities well inland at risk of being part of the disaster.

The 2018 Hurricane season carried an estimated price tag, in terms of losses, of $33 billion. Between 1980 and 2018, hurricanes and other tropical systems have inflicted damage totaling approximately $919.7 billion, adjusted for the Consumer Price Index. This translates to an average of $21.9 billion in damages per tropical cyclone striking the United States during that period.

From 1900 to 2017, the United States experienced 36 hurricanes with costs of at least $1 billion. Four of these storms struck in 2016 and 2017 — Matthew (2016) and Harvey, Irma and Maria (2017). Harvey ($125 billion), Maria ($90 billion) and Irma ($50 billion) ranked, as of the end of the 2017 Hurricane season, among the top five costliest hurricanes. Katrina (2005), at $161 billion, remains the most expensive in United States History. Sandy, third-ranked on the list, struck in 2012 and left damages of approximately $71 billion.

In 2018, two hurricanes (Florence and Michael) each inflicted billions in damages. Florence-related losses covered by insurance policies (not counting those covered by the National Flood Insurance Program) ranged between an estimated $2 billion and $5.5 billion. The estimated total damages from Florence reached $17 billion. For Matthew, insured losses carried estimates of $6 billion to $8 billion, with total losses climbing to nearly $11 billion.

Flooding

In addition to tropical systems, heavy rain events from thunderstorms and stalled or slow-moving unstable weather patterns create flooding damage. On average, flooding causes $8 billion annually. From 2000 to 2017, catastrophes involving flooding have resulted in damages north of $750 billion. In 2017, NFIP paid damages of over $8.7 billion for flooding losses. This more than doubled the nearly $3.7 billion in 2016.

Think you’re immune from flooding or the costs from it? According to the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the vast majority of counties and parishes in the United States (98%) face flooding events. More than one in five claims for flooding damage originate from places not considered at high risk for flooding. These numbers bear witness to the reality that not just coastal counties or those located along rivers experience significant flooding problems.

It does not take a catastrophe to accumulate significant damages for households. For the average home, considered by FEMA to be 2,500 square feet and one story, merely an inch of flooding in the structure translates to a potential loss of $26,807 to real and personal property. With four inches of water in the interior, that loss exposure climbs to $103,355.

Why You Need to Examine Your Property Coverage?

Standard homeowner’s and property casualty insurance policies do not cover damage from flooding. Those who do not live or own property in floodplains, and, thus, are not required by the federal government or normally by their lenders to have flood insurance, may not believe they need it. The realization that homeowner’s coverage does not avail for flooding damage, whether catastrophic or relatively minor, does not hit until the owner files the claim. Want to learn more? Check out Bankrate’s Guide to Flood Insurance

Congress created NFIP in 1968 out of concerns that standard insurance did not cover floods, and the costs of disaster relief and restoration from these events fell ultimately to taxpayers. Policies issued under NFIP afford coverage of $250,000 on the home itself and $100,000 on the contents in the home. Premiums for NFIP coverage average $700 annually. To access this coverage, your community must enact and enforce ordinances for protection and management of floodplain areas.

If you cannot obtain coverage from NFIP, usually because your property does not lie in a community with the necessary ordinance, you may find private companies to cover flooding. This insurance may come as a separate policy or an endorsement (or extra) to a homeowner’s policy.

Summer Fun Pool Safety Tips

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A mother and father having fun on vacation playing with their children on their shoulders in a swimming poolWater Safety 101: Tips for an Enjoyable Summer Pool Season

Finally! It’s time to open the pool and get ready for the glorious summer season. But, having your own backyard oasis does come with some responsibilities. Here are some great tips to keep you, your family, and your friends safe around your swimming area this summer.

Hydration

A general statistic is that nearly 75% of Americans are dehydrated on a regular basis. Add in the heat of the sun around swimming pools and the activity associated with it, you’ll need even more hydration. Always make sure there are plenty of beverages available.

Children

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, drowning in open waters and pools ranks in the top three for leading causes of death with children aged up to 19. Drowning is the number one cause of death for children aged one to four. There’s no such thing as being too cautious when it comes to keeping children safe around pools.

  • Adult supervision is vital anytime children are swimming, regardless of how well they can swim.
  • It’s a good idea to have plenty of rafts and inflatables for the little ones that like to float.
  • Kids like to experiment, and think that they’re invincible. You might have to remind them to use diving boards and slides only for their intended purpose.
  • You could get your own certification for CPR. It could give you some peace of mind knowing you might be able to do something if the unthinkable happened.

Chemicals

You already know how important it is to keep the chemicals in the pool balanced. Not only does it keep it looking beautiful, it also keeps it safe from algae and other contaminants. Since it might not be safe to swim in after adding certain chemicals, you’ll always want to make sure that anyone using it is aware of the chemical schedule.

Sunscreen

Anytime that you are exposing your skin to direct sunlight, it’s a good idea to use sunscreen. Of course, it’s a pain to keep applying it. But, it’s protecting your skin from all sorts of damage from harmful UV rays, including cancer. And, you even need to be more vigilant with sunscreen around pools since the water will reflect the sun, making the UV rays that much stronger.

Running

This is another big nonnegotiable. It doesn’t matter what the surface of the deck is made of. Once it gets wet, it will be slippery. Running on a slippery deck is just an accident waiting to happen. And, the resulting fall can be life threatening, depending on the circumstances. Just make it a rule. No running! And, enforce it.

Glass

The problem with glass around swimming pools is that if it breaks and falls underwater, it’s practically invisible, creating a cutting hazard for anyone swimming. One broken glass on the pool’s deck could cause it to have to be drained to make sure there aren’t any pieces hiding on the bottom.

No Solo Swimming

Not only should you never swim alone, but you also make sure that nobody else does either. There are just too many things that can happen in a swimming pool. And, if you are alone, there’s no one to help. It’s not something that you really want to think about.

Protect Yourself From Liabilities

The safety of your property is your responsibility. Unfortunately, accidents can happen. And, if someone is injured while they’re on your property, you could be held financially responsible.

It’s also the insurance companies who usually initiate litigation, trying to recoup any expenses they covered due to the accident. Being able to prove that you have water safety rules in place could help you in the event of any lawsuits.

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