Study Disagrees With Global Warming Notion

July 12, 2001

A study analyzing insured hurricane damages from all hurricanes which impacted the continental U.S. in the 20th Century, disagrees with some analysts’ claims who stated that global warming has caused gains in catastrophic hurricane damages.

The study from Tillinghast-Towers Perrin reports the following:

* When adjusting actual insured hurricane damages to reflect present property values and the growth of people residing toward the coast, insured damages in the last decade did not seem unusually high in comparison to other decades in the 20th Century.

* Hurricane Andrew failed to produce the highest adjusted damages from a single storm, as the Sept. 1926 Miami hurricane was tops with $50 billion in insured damages. Andrew resulted in $25 billion in insured damages.

* Despite the fact that Atlantic hurricane frequency did grow in the second half of the 1990s, the amount of such storms hitting the U.S. in the decade actually resulted in the second lowest number in the 20th Century.

Tillinghast principal Doug Collins said the study refutes a widely-held thought that gains in hurricane frequency, whether a result of global warming or cyclical phenomena, are increasing insured damages. Collins notes that the study places historical hurricane costs on a comparable level, stating that no one had ever recorded the entire 20th Century previously or took into consideration the major growth of residences and vacation homes near the coast.

Collins added that even though contemporary computer models are capable of estimating present insured losses from historical hurricanes, public acceptance of the models has been tempered by their complexity and proprietary nature.

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