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Hurricane Zeta onshore insured losses estimated at $3B to $5B

by Matthew Lerner

Business Insurance

Total onshore U.S. insured losses from Hurricane Zeta are estimated to be between $3 billion and $5 billion, according to Newark, California-based catastrophe modeler Risk Management Solutions Inc.

The estimate includes losses to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) of between $200 million and $300 million, RMS said Wednesday in a statement.

Losses associated with inland flooding are expected to be negligible, due to Zeta's fast forward speed after making landfall, which kept high rainfall totals to isolated areas.

Estimated wind and storm surge loss estimates across the impacted states, including Louisiana and Mississippi, are based on analysis by Version 18.1 of the RMS North Atlantic Hurricane Model.

Losses reflect property damage and business interruption to residential, commercial, industrial and automobile lines of business, along with post-event loss amplification and non-modeled sources of loss, RMS said, adding it expects most insured losses will be from residential lines.

The estimate of NFIP losses was based on an analysis of 2019 policy-in-force data published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Version 18.1 North Atlantic Hurricane Model.

RMS estimates insured losses to offshore platforms, rigs and pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico will not exceed $500 million from wind and wave-driven damage.

The abundance of named storms this year has led to some overlap in damages.

"We do expect some overlap between Zeta and Sally as the industry settles losses from these two events," said Jeff Waters, senior product manager, RMS North Atlantic Hurricane Models, in the statement. RMS found that approximately 20% of zip codes affected by Zeta were also impacted by Sally, particularly at lower wind speeds.

Hurricane Zeta made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana, on Oct. 28 as a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, RMS said. It was the 27th named storm of the 2020 North Atlantic hurricane season, the 11th hurricane, and the sixth hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous U.S. in the extremely active season. It was also the record-breaking fifth named storm to make landfall this year in Louisiana.

Earlier this week, other catastrophe risk modeling companies released Hurricane Zeta onshore loss estimates ranging from around $1.5 billion to close to $4.4 billion.

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