September 1, 2020

Hurricane Laura to cause insured onshore property losses of up to $8 billion: AIR Worldwide

Catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide expects Hurricane Laura to cause industry insured losses to onshore property of between $4 billion and $8 billion, resulting from winds and storm surge. 

Cagdas Kafali, senior vice president of research at AIR Worldwide, cited comparisons between Laura and Hurricane Rita in 2005, but pointed out that Rita was a larger storm and hit a more populous area. 

Laura made landfall east of Houston and west of New Orleans, on August 27 as a strong Category 4 storm. It struck the Louisiana coast with sustained winds of nearly 150 mph (241 km/h), tying it with the 1856 Last Island hurricane in terms of the strongest recorded tropical cyclone to make landfall in Louisiana. 

Laura brought catastrophic winds, around 15 feet of storm surge, and widespread heavy rain across the Gulf region, with wind and rain continuing north into Arkansas. However, the combination of Laura’s track through relatively lower populated areas and its Rmax on the smaller side should keep insured losses down, despite the severity of the storm when it made landfall, AIR said. 

The vast majority of Laura’s impacts were felt in Louisiana. 

Kafali said: “Residential buildings in and around Lake Charles saw significant damage to roofs of all geometries and with various roof cover types. Residential building envelopes were breached due to debris impacts and the damage was further exacerbated in many cases due to the impacts of storm surge. Residential homes in Louisiana are founded primarily on crawlspace and slab foundations, both of which are vulnerable when it comes to flood damage.”

AIR Worldwide, Cagdas Kafali, Hurricane Laura

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