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Hurricane Ian Damages, Insurance and Model Community

A 60 Minutes segment.

There will be many stories to come about the impact of Hurricane Ian on people and property. One such "early story" is this one from 60 Minutes: "This place looks like it's been bombed out": Florida communities devastated by Hurricane Ian."

There are really three stories in the above segment. The first is one family's return to their island home and the devastation they found from the storm surge. Then, the one I'd like to highlight is with a property insurance agent who highlights how the cost of insurance is going through the roof and small companies are failing, while others will stop offering hazard insurance. He also calls out the claims process that has to determine if the damage was caused by wind or water. If the damages come from the water from flooding or the storm surge, you will need to have had flood insurance in place before hand.

All of the above is very predictable. Here is a quote from a recent op-ed I had published that calls out the issue at hand:

"The recent stop gap funding bill to keep the federal government running includes $2 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to handle disaster recovery costs for 2022-2023. One early estimate for the possible damages caused by Hurricane Ian was $70 billion. In Florida alone, in the last 30 years they have sustained $213.2B in disaster losses. Can we afford to subsidize the irrational behavior by those unconcerned with the eventual cost of choices for where and how we build today? Eventually the Piper will have to be paid.

"In the immediate future the only moderating factor that is going to have an impact on what gets built is the insurance industry. They are the ones who are insuring the property losses being suffered. We know by experience that companies will begin pulling back on property insurance. Some insurance companies will go out of business. Policy rates will go way up, and, in many cases, companies will stop offering hazard insurance all together for those areas with the greatest risks. For those who are not buying a home with cash, they won’t be able to get a home loan."

The last segment of this 60 Minutes episode was on a community that survived (away from the coast) with minor damage by having better building practices, although they don't go into that in much depth.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.