The average hurricane season produces 14 named storms and seven hurricanes, of which three are typically major storms. How did this season compare?
The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season was the fourth most active on record. It produced 20 named storms, seven of which reached hurricane status. Three named storms became major hurricanes, including Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall as a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds.
The most active season to date is still 2020 with 30 named storms, 14 hurricanes, and seven major hurricanes.
These numbers are in line with predictions for the hurricane season, but the impact was felt through much of the southeast, particularly in Florida. The estimated cost of Hurricane Idalia is between $9 and $20 billion in damage. Additionally, Tropical Storm Ophelia caused damage in North Carolina, as did a post-tropical cyclone in Nova Scotia.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management estimates that the total value of damage from weather and climate disasters from 1980 to August of 2023 is approximately $2.6 trillion. Hurricanes and tropical cyclones have caused the most damage of all weather related events, with damage totalling over $1.3 trillion. This equates to an average of about $22.8 billion in damage per event.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that the cost of hurricane damage will increase faster than our economy grows. Currently, the CBO estimates that annual damage from hurricanes amounts to 0.16% of our GDP.
|Yearly hurricane impact
|People “substantially affected”
Source: Congressional Budget Office, Effects of Climate Change and Coastal Development on U.S. Hurricane Damage: Implications for the Federal Budget, November 2, 2017.
The CBO’s predictions of increasing hurricane costs ring true to anyone who’s paid attention to storms in the last few years. Four of the five most expensive storms in US history have happened since 2012, and all five have happened since 2005.
Insured loss (2022 dollars)
Source: Insurance Information Institute, Facts + Statistics: Hurricanes, Accessed December 20, 2023.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says just one inch of water can cause as much as $25,000 worth of structural damage to your home. However, a typical homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover the damage from water that comes from outside your home. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of damage most associated with hurricanes.
That’s one reason Americans care so much about getting hurricane updates and staying ahead of big storms. They hope to minimize, if not prevent, costly flood damage.
Flood damage is always expensive. Even if you experience less than $25,000’s worth of damage, those costs come out of your pocket if you don’t have flood insurance.
Flood insurance doesn’t cover everything. NFIP policies only cover up to $250,000 in structural damage (i.e., rebuilding your home) and $100,000 in contents (i.e., replacing damaged stuff in your house). Most policies also exclude coverage of anything kept in a basement or crawlspace.
More than one in five claims the NFIP pays are for homes considered to have a low or moderate risk of flooding. So even if you don’t live in what’s considered a flood zone, you may want to invest in flood insurance to prevent a major unexpected expense in the event of a flood.
Regularly check this NOAA map of hurricane activity in the Atlantic. It’s updated several times per day to reflect the latest known information about developing tropical storms, tropical depressions, cyclones, hurricanes, and other storms.
If your home is damaged by a hurricane, your standard homeowners insurance may not cover all the damage. Typical homeowners policies:
DO cover wind damage related to hurricanes. This portion of the coverage is sometimes called hurricane insurance.
DO have a separate deductible for hurricane-related damages. This is called a hurricane deductible.
DO NOT cover flooding from hurricanes. For that coverage, you’ll need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy (typically from the NFIP, though Kin can help you get coverage, too).
Ever heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? It’s a cliché, but it’s highly applicable to hurricane preparation. Your best bet at minimizing the damage a hurricane can cause is to prepare in two ways:
Prepare your home to survive the high wind and water. This includes both long-term planning like making sure your roof meets wind mitigation standards and short-term hurricane-proofing you can do once you know a storm is coming.
Plan short-term living alternatives. This involves planning where you’ll go if and when you get an evacuation order. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to prepare for a hurricane.
Even the best preparation can’t prevent all hurricane damage. If your home is hit, you’ll want to start the recovery process as soon as possible.
To get an idea of how Kin handles hurricane recovery, read about our strategy post-Irma, where we used texts to communicate with our customers and drones to snap photos of damage so we could start the claims process before many people had returned from evacuation.
Find out whether your home is in an area where a disaster has been declared at DisasterAssistance.gov. You can apply for disaster assistance online from this website.
Get a sense of what your disaster assistance options are and where to find the resources you need from FEMA’s individual disaster assistance page.
Find basic information about securing financial assistance after a disaster from USA.gov.
If you have flood damage after a hurricane and you have a flood insurance policy, you’ll have to submit a claim to your insurance company to get the funds you need to repair or rebuild. Here’s a guide to handling the flood claims process. The most important takeaway: start the process sooner rather than later to ensure you’re able to get the compensation you need to recover.
When the storm has passed, you’ll likely want to get your life back to normal as soon as possible. But keep in mind that full recovery may take some time, especially if the damage is severe or widespread. To make sure you don’t put yourself or your family at risk, be sure you follow these safety guidelines:
DON’T return to your home if there is still an active evacuation order.
DON’T try to wade, swim, or drive through standing water.
DON’T touch downed power lines; instead, report them to the police or fire department.
DON’T use generators indoors, including in a garage, crawlspace, or basement. Before refilling a generator with gas, let it cool off first.
DON’T burn charcoal indoors.
DON’T eat or drink anything unless you know it’s safe. Check out the CDC’s food and water safety guidelines for more.
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