Hurricane Katrina 10

Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the US on August 29, 2005. It remains the largest-ever windstorm loss and the costliest disaster in the history of the global insurance industry, causing as much as $125bn in overall damages and $60bn+ in insured losses.

To mark the 10-year anniversary of Katrina, the risk bulletin Hurricane Katrina 10: Catastrophe Management And Global Windstorm Peril Review analyzes windstorm risks and losses and examines the lessons learned from Katrina for future global windstorm loss mitigation, given increasing weather volatility.

Storms can have a devastating impact for businesses. Even without considering the impact of climate change the prospect of increasing losses is more likely in future. This is due to continuing economic development in hazard-prone urban coastal areas around the world and in Asia in particular, where growth of exposure is far outpacing take-up of insurance coverage, resulting in a growing gap in natural catastrophe preparedness.

AGCS business insurance claims analysis shows windstorm is the fifth top cause of loss for businesses. 40% of natural hazard claims are storm-related. US is the top loss location accounting for almost half (49%) of 400+ windstorms claims analyzed over a five accident year period1. More than 50 countries around the world have suffered significant windstorm insurance losses in recent years2.

Europe is the second top loss region (19%), followed by South East and Far East Asia (6%), Central America (3%) and Australia and New Zealand (3%). Claims analysis shows the maritime industry is highly exposed to such losses, accounting for 60% of windstorms claims by number compared with 30% for property. High-value claims include loss of commercial vessels, pleasure craft and cargo. However, storms can also damage or destroy ports or coastal infrastructure, including warehouses, cranes, quaysides, terminals, buoys and sheds.
Katrina has helped to improved catastrophe risk management awareness. Impact of storm and demand surge, business continuity and insurance coverage details are among the key lessons learned. A decade later the Gulf Coast is better prepared to withstand the effects of a hurricane due to better education, improved construction guidelines and increased third party inspection. However, businesses still need to place greater emphasis on reviewing pre- and post-loss risk management. Preparedness is crucial to mitigating increasing storm losses, particularly in highlysusceptible areas such as construction sites.

Business continuity planning and indirect supply chain exposures are areas which would benefit from greater attention. If such procedures are not in place or reviewed, the magnitude of windstorm losses can increase significantly. There are four crucial stages to windstorm loss mitigation – pre-, during and post-windstorm and business continuity. Business planning should include development of a comprehensive windstorm emergency plan, to be updated and tested regularly.

Business continuity management is crucial as just-intime production, lean inventories and global supply chains can easily multiply negative effects. Property damage and business interruption are usually covered but often there is loss of market share, suppliers, clients and staff. Continuity plans also need to be tested.

1. 1 11,427 corporate claims from 148 countries with a total value of more than €21.5bn, were analyzed, each with a total value after deductible of €100,000 or higher. There were 426 windstorm claims. All claims figures are 100% (not only the AGCS share but including coinsurers shares)
2. between 2009 and 2013.
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