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Hurricane Dorian is likely to cause claims on high-value commercial and residential properties, including hotels and resorts, as well as business-interruption losses that could be substantial “given the hurricane’s destruction,” Moody’s Investors Service Inc. said in a report Thursday.
Early estimates indicate damages on the Bahamas could reach into the several billions.
The leading commercial property insurers in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina in 2018 measured by direct premiums written in those state were Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. ($674 million), American International Group Inc. ($576 million), Continental Casualty Co. (a unit of CNA Financial Corp.) ($548 million), Assurant Inc. ($468 million) and Zurich American Insurance Co. ($392 million), according to Moody’s.
Damage estimates will take weeks and perhaps months to complete, given the high winds and extensive flooding,” as “extensive flood damage likely will hamper the claims-adjusting resources, slowing the claims process,” Moody’s said.
Meanwhile, “A spike in demand for materials and labor will likely raise rebuilding costs, thereby increasing losses for insurers,” Moody’s added.
Business interruption claims will also pose a challenge, Moody’s said. “Such losses are difficult to predict because they depend on provisions in individual insurance contracts,” Moody’s said.
Losses may pull through to the reinsurance market, Moody’s said.
“While the extent of insured losses is difficult to predict at this early stage, we expect some of the losses to make their way to the reinsurance market through both quota-share treaties and excess-of-loss reinsurance policies,” Moody’s said.
Analyst Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. made a similar observation.
Dorian joins an elite group of Atlantic hurricanes to record wind speeds of 185 miles per hour or greater, including Allen (1980), Wilma (2005), Gilbert (1988), and the Labor Day Hurricane (1935), according to catastrophe modeler Risk Management Solutions Inc.
Only one hurricane has ever hit the Bahamas as a Category 5, Andrew in 1992, although it did not affect the same islands as Dorian, RMS said.
Hurricane Dorian could become a significant event for reinsurers due to low retention levels in Florida property coverages, according to a briefing Thursday from analyst Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.