Hurricane Irma has wreaked havoc on Florida is barreling into Georgia and Alabama.
But it didn't leaving the Sunshine State without leaving a huge financial bill behind - one that insurance companies will largely cover in the form of home and business claims.
According to AIR Worldwide, a Boston-based catastrophe modeling firm, damage from Irma in insurance losses was originally tabbed at $50 billion in the continental U.S., plus another $15 billion in damage to large swaths of the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Cuba, St. Martin and Barbuda. On Monday, September 11, AIR Worldwide reduced that amount to between $20 billion and $40 billion, given Irma's detour around heavily-populated Miami.
In a company statement, AIR Worldwide noted that it modeled insured loss estimates for the U.S. to include "wind and storm surge damage to onshore residential, commercial, and industrial properties and their contents, automobiles, and time element coverage (additional living expenses for residential properties and business interruption for commercial properties)." AIR also said its loss estimates "do not include losses paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program, losses to uninsured properties, losses to inland marine, marine cargo and hull and pleasure boats, and losses to infrastructure."
Disaster experts agree insurers did catch a break when Irma steered northwest, away from the Miami metropolitan area.
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"The impact of Hurricane Irma on insurers will not be as large as was initially projected," says Ty Leverty, Gerald Stephens CPCU distinguished chair in risk management and insurance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "The hurricane moved away from Miami and toward Tampa Bay and West Florida."