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USA - The Perfect Storm: Diving Into America's Catastrophic Perils

A perfect storm is brewing in the United States.

The country is steamrolling toward peak wildfire and hurricane seasons, but the public’s attention is glued elsewhere. The US remains gripped in battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 166,000 Americans and strong-armed the country’s economy into a slumber. But pandemic or no pandemic, Mother Nature never sleeps. Severe weather events have already struck and will continue to strike the US through 2020, and Americans must be ready.

On August 03, Hurricane Isaias made landfall in North Carolina, causing widespread structural damage and power outages to more than three million people along the Atlantic Coast. Isaias was the second hurricane to make landfall in the US this year and was the earliest ninth named storm on record. According to estimates by catastrophe modeling firm Karen Clark & Company (KCC), the brutal storm caused around $4 billion insured losses in the US and $200 million in the Caribbean. It was a stark reminder that – pandemic or not – the US continues to face traditional weather exposures. For a refresher of America’s top natural perils and how to handle them, download IBA’s free Natural Catastrophe Report 2020.

COVID-19 presents some unique challenges for insurers dealing with catastrophic weather events. Ross Bowie (pictured, directly above), head of personal lines at Orchid Insurance, a coast to coast catastrophe property insurer, commented: “One of the questions we’ve been trying to understand is where are the evacuees going to go? I could imagine that hundreds of thousands fleeing a coastal city could present a situation where COVID-19 has the opportunity to spread at a rapid pace. Could you imagine getting sick while having to evacuate your home? It’s a tough situation for all.

“The other aspect we’re trying to understand is how homes will be repaired and claims adjudicated. Most of the resources insurance companies and utility companies use are from out of town. Will they have a place to stay? And how will we control the spread of COVID-19? These are all questions we need to find answers to.”

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