9 years without a hurricane, yet Florida still #1 for catastrophe losses
Hurricane Bill, a Category 4 storm, completely missed Florida in August 2009. Satellite image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.
In many ranking situations, being #1 is a good thing. Except this: After nine years without a hurricane hitting Florida, our state still ranks tops for catastrophe losses. Time has not changed that. It has, however, shrunk the margin between first and second place. Granted, this is not much consolation.
About a decade ago, Florida’s share of historical catastrophe losses was somewhere around 20 percent of all U.S. natural disasters. With this extended period of storm-free years, the state’s share has dropped to around 14 percent, but that is still the top ranking.
When people ask why property insurance rates have not dropped in the absence of a major storm, think about this chart above. Insurance rates reflect history, and there is no escaping a history that includes nearly $67 billion dollars in losses over the past 30 years.
It is extremely positive to enjoy all these years virtually unscathed by damage from high winds and storm surge — obviously. The familiar saying is that history repeats itself. When it comes to powerful storms, there’s always hope that it does not. Yet, history cannot be ignored. Ideally, it should be a catalyst for taking action to build fortified structures to keep us safer, reduce the costs of disaster and help the state relinquish the No. 1 spot.