Hurricane Sandy: What Comes Next? A Roundup

What awaits: billions in losses, higher insurance premiums and a ‘mind-boggling’ loss assessment

Storm Sandy flooded a parking lot full of yellow cabs in Hoboken, NJ. (Photo: AP) Storm Sandy flooded a parking lot full of yellow cabs in Hoboken, NJ. (Photo: AP)

The devastating winds and storm surges of Hurricane Sandy may have died down, but the long, expensive slog of sorting out the damage has just begun. Here are some perspectives from our sister site, PropertyCasualty360, on what comes next. Click the links to read the full stories.

On the Ground: Perspectives on Sandy From Hoboken, N.J., Staff

The PropertyCasualty360 staff is used to hearing and writing about catastrophes, but it is rare for so many of us to be in the middle of a severe weather event ourselves. For those of us who work out of Summit Business Media’s Hoboken office, we simply do not see the types of extreme weather that many of our readers to the south, west and even north of us regularly contend with. 

So when “Superstorm” Sandy struck, it was jolting for us. Scarier still is the thought that other areas of the country are almost annually under threat from hurricanes with far higher wind speeds. 

For those of us with access to power and computers, we decided take advantage of our firsthand experiences with Sandy by providing images and accounts of the damage and aftermath.

Karen Clark & Co.: Sandy's Wind Damage Alone to Cause $12B in Insured Losses

The woman who created the catastrophe modeling industry estimates insured wind losses due to Superstorm Sandy will be $12 billion. 

Karen Clark, who in 2007 founded Karen Clark & Co. after starting what is now AIR Worldwide in the mid-1980s, says New York was hit by the strongest sustained winds from Sandy. Wind gusts peaked at between 70 mph and 80 mph in places like JFK Airport and Long Island, N.Y. 

According to Karen Clark & Co.’s RiskInsight product—which allows insurers and reinsurers to estimate company-specific losses—there were no recorded sustained hurricane-force winds in New Jersey but because winds are not measured in all areas, it’s possible that the New Jersey coast did experience winds of this strength. A large majority of claims can be expected from New York and New Jersey. 

Residential insurers can expect more than 650,000 claims for wind damage, according to RiskInsight. Commercial insurers can expect in excess of 100,000 claims. Auto claims are not included in the analysis of insured wind losses.

Higher Rates, Lack of Coverage Likely After States' Hurricane Deductible Decision: Industry Rep

Insurance companies are smarting over the decision by six states and the District of Columbia to tell insurers they cannot impose hurricane deductibles for losses suffered from “Superstorm” Sandy.

Neil Alldredge, senior vice president, state & policy affairs, for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, says the ultimate impact from the decision will likely be higher insurance rates for everyone.

Moreover, Alldredge says, it will result in another rethinking by companies as to how much coastal risk they can afford to underwrite.

Companies Starting 'Mind-Boggling' Business Interruption Assessment

Clark Schweers says companies are just beginning to “wrap their arms around” the vast business-interruption implication left behind by Superstorm Sandy.

Schweers is a managing director for BDO Consulting, a provider of litigation, investigation, risk advisory and other services for major corporations and insurance companies (among others). As the head of the firm’s business-interruption and insurance-claims practice, Schweers says he’s already talked to companies—and each are just starting the process (if it’s even possible) of accessing losses due to the vast disruption caused by Sandy. 

“It’s mind-boggling; that’s what they are telling me,” Schweers says of what he’s hearing from the companies—many of them belonging to the Fortune 500—about their initial look at what Sandy has done to business.

Blog--Toops Scoops: The Elephant in the Room Now Has a Name: Sandy

In the movie "Ghostbusters," when New York City was threatened with paranormal destruction, Bill Murray's character tries to explain the gravity of the situation by saying things will become so extreme that there will be "dogs and cats living together...mass hysteria."

In the wake of Sandy, New York City and its environs have already seen the human equivalent of this prediction, with the disaster making very strange bedfellows of Barack Obama, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

But we need a lot more than political posturing to solve the problem of "100-year storms" that are now coming along every year or so.

Yes, it's the big, wet (or dry, hot or cold) elephant in the room: climate change.

Originally published on PropertyCasualty360. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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