Georgia Estimates $250M in Insured Losses from Hurricane Michael

November 5, 2018

The Georgia Department of Insurance has estimated insured property losses from Hurricane Michael will reach $250 million, according to a statement by Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

In figures released Oct. 18, GADOI said more than 35,000 property-related claims were expected.

“Our preliminary estimate today is $250 million in damage across Georgia. That figure may likely rise as new claims are submitted,” Hudgens said.

The commissioner’s office said in an email to Insurance Journal the hardest hit areas of Georgia appear to be Albany, Bainbridge, Donalsonville and Leesburg.

The Category 4 storm hit the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10 and then made its way Northeast, continuing its path of destruction through Georgia and the Carolinas.

When Michael entered Georgia, it had weakened but was still a Category 3, with high winds and pounding rains leaving downed trees and power outages.

More than 180,000 people were still without power in Georgia two days after Michael, according to the Associated Press.

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black said that damage to the state’s agricultural sector “struck deep into the heart of our state and of our farm families.” He said poultry operations, timberlands, cotton crops and pecan orchards were among the hardest hit.

“This is a storm that will have generational consequences,” Black said as reported by AP.

Catastrophe modeling firms have estimated Michael’s damage will range from $4 billion to $10 billion. KCC said the highest wind speeds of 155 mph, the equivalent of an EF-3 tornado, impacted a narrow area in Bay County, Fla., and resulted in extensive wind-related damage across all business lines and construction types.

Ratings agencies said the losses would be substantial, particularly in Florida, but not enough to cause problems for insurers or a pullback in capacity.

“It’s not going to be a market moving storm,” said Howard Mills, Global Insurance Regulatory leader for Deloitte. He added the insurance industry and the global reinsurance industry are “very well capitalized … there are hundreds of billions of dollars in capital and surplus and they are well positioned to handle this storm.”

State Farm, the number one insurer in the state of Georgia, said it had received 9,580 homeowner claims and 1,400 auto claims from Hurricane Michael as of mid-October. Overall, it has paid more than $30 million in auto and homeowner claims related to the storm in six states.

At the end of October, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal called a special session of the state legislature to grapple with the recovery costs from Hurricane Michael, AP reported. The governor’s office expects the state’s portion of cleanup costs to be approximately $100 million.