Natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires can upend thousands of lives and cause incredible amounts of physical damage. This summer has made the awful power of these disasters even more clear, as Hurricane Laura battered the Gulf Coast and wildfires continue to devastate communities across the western United States.
In these moments of crisis, Americans count on their insurers for assistance, perhaps as much as they rely on first responders and government agencies. The industry’s response is its way of helping hundreds of thousands of people in need in the fairest way it can – by providing financial support for damages covered by insurance.
With its landfall August 27, Hurricane Laura ravaged southwestern Louisiana and parts of Texas, causing at least three dozen deaths and extensive property damage. As many as 17,000 residents were evacuated and as of mid-September thousands seem likely to be without power for several weeks more.
Insurers are always ready and able to step up to help homeowners and communities rebuild. Following Hurricane Laura, this will mean covering an estimated $8 billion to $12 billion in insured claims. The industry could end up paying even more than that this year to supply funds that will help fire victims in the west get their lives back on track.
Insurers have a long record of helping customers and economies rebuild in natural disasters. Fifteen years ago customers received more than $50 billion to help them recover from Hurricane Katrina, the costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Hurricane Laura's timing and direction mirrored that of two other hurricanes, Harvey (2017) and Rita (2005), during which the industry paid nearly $20 billion and $6 billion in insured damages respectively. (All dollar amounts have been adjusted for inflation.)
As the hurricane and wildfire seasons continue, with some analysts expecting more severe catastrophes than ever before, insurers are prepared to serve communities around the country. Whether that's setting up early warning centers in Colorado, monitoring hurricanes in real time from Florida, or sending adjusters into neighborhoods most affected by the LNU Lightening Complex Fire in California, resilience and recovery are core values deeply ingrained in insuring the risks of natural disasters.
Following a natural disaster, policyholders with relevant coverage often file claims based on their business interruption policy. This is precisely what that coverage was intended for—the times that businesses have sustained physical damage from disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, or earthquakes.
Keeping these commitments to Main Street – helping small businesses and communities across the country manage risks both known and unknown – is an incredible responsibility that insurers take seriously and work every day to uphold as financial first responders.
To learn more about business interruption insurance, visit the Future of American Insurance and Reinsurance (FAIR). For more on the role of insurance in natural disasters, visit the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).