Harvey Hits Home

By | September 4, 2017

As a native Texan, my heart hurts for the thousands of people and business owners affected by Hurricane Harvey. Family, friends and business associates in the Lonestar State will be dealing with the aftermath for years to come. And so too will the insurance industry.

Harvey’s cost could add-up to more than $24 billion when including the impact of relentless flooding on the labor force, power grid, transportation and other elements that support the region’s energy sector, Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research, told Bloomberg. That would place it among the top eight hurricanes to ever strike the United States.

While it’s too early to accurately quantify the insured losses related to Hurricane Harvey, primary insurance carriers — as opposed to reinsurers — would retain the majority of losses, according to analysts at S&P Global Ratings.

Regional and local primary insurers could be hurt most by the storm.

Primary insurers - as opposed to reinsurers - will bear the brunt of the covered losses from Hurricane Harvey.

According to an article by S&P, early estimates from catastrophe modeling firms indicate Harvey’s insured losses could total up to $6 billion, the bulk of which will be paid by primary insurers.

Based on these early estimates, S&P said it believes that Harvey will likely be an “earnings event rather than a capital event” for property/casualty insurers and reinsurers. S&P analysts do not expect to take many negative ratings actions in these sectors, although there could be ones on a few outliers.

“Primary insurers – as opposed to reinsurers – will bear the brunt of the covered losses from Hurricane Harvey,” said S&P analyst Taoufik Gharib. “However, the effect on individual companies will vary. While the large, national primary players have sufficient geographic and product diversification to absorb the losses, some of the regional and local players could face significant hits to their earnings and possibly their capital.”

With the earnings of certain personal lines players already stretched, the hurricane-related losses could wipe out their earnings for the year, S&P noted.

S&P said it expects more detailed information about personal and commercial insurance losses to emerge in the days and weeks ahead.

It expects losses to be spread among many national and regional carriers as well as their reinsurers. While estimates for total insured losses are still preliminary, economic damages from Harvey will certainly overwhelm those of insured losses.

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West September 4, 2017
September 4, 2017
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Surplus Lines: State of the Market / NAPSLO Issue; Emerging Risks; Energy

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