Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms to hit land, may cost insurers as much as $700 million in the Philippines, a fraction of estimated damage, because few people are covered, a catastrophe modeler said.
Total damage to residential, commercial and agricultural properties from the storm will be as much as $14.5 billion, AIR Worldwide said yesterday in a statement. Insured losses will probably be at least $300 million, AIR said.
Haiyan slammed into central Philippines on Nov. 8, knocking down buildings and trees, flattening crops and destroying an airport. The storm displaced more than 3.9 million people, authorities said, and foreign governments have been increasing pledges of assistance as the scope of the destruction becomes clear. Soldiers were dispatched to prevent looting as survivors scoured for food.
“Tacloban City was particularly hard-hit as storm surge depths as high as 4 meters destroyed every coastal home and left many inland neighborhoods inundated with floodwaters,” Peter Sousounis, senior principal scientist at AIR, said in the statement. “The storm maintained impressive wind speeds as it traversed the Philippines.”
The storm killed at least 4,460 people, making it one of the deadliest in Philippine history, according to the United Nations. The storm left 18,175 people injured and 1,590 missing, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
It’s difficult to accurately estimate insured losses in the Philippines as no known anemometers in the area of the storm’s landfall remain intact to provide the storm’s strength, AIR said.
The Philippines is one of the countries most at risk of natural disasters, according to Maplecroft, a research company based in Bath, England. The Asian Development Bank estimates that losses from typhoons and earthquakes in the Philippines average $1.6 billion annually, the highest in Southeast Asia.
–Editors: Joshua Fellman, Peter Eichenbaum