If you live in Houston, Texas and are worried about weather-related property damage, you have reason to be concerned. Last year, Texas and Oklahoma scored highest in the U.S. for insurance payouts related to natural disasters.
In 2013, according to the Insurance Information Institute, Oklahoma received almost $2 billion in property damage compensation while Texas received more than $1.5 billion. Usually, such high losses are associated with hurricanes, but a large percentage of these claims resulted from other severe weather including killer tornadoes.
Between 2000 and 2013, Texas received the highest insurance payouts in the U.S. for catastrophic weather claims; payouts totaled almost $17 billion. Oklahoma came in second for the same period with nearly $10 billion in property damage claims.
In 2012, New Jersey and New York sustained the bulk of severe weather losses from Hurricane Sandy. However, even in 2012, Texas ranked third in weather damages, sustaining almost $2.5 billion in losses with no hurricanes involved. Kentucky and Colorado took fourth and fifth places respectively, and again, no hurricanes were involved.
According to Insurance Information Institute president Robert Hartwig, the frequency and severity of tornadoes is partly to blame for the recent upsurge in weather-related insurance claims. In an address to the National Tornado Summit in Oklahoma City earlier this year, Mr. Hartwig said that the recent spate of super-tornadoes is unprecedented in U.S. history and, in 2011 alone, tornadoes took a severe toll on cities like Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Since 1983, tornadoes have caused 36 percent of all insurance claims during any given year.
However, even in 2011, Texas sustained more weather-related destruction than other states with claims totaling over $3.5 billion. Over the last 30 years, Texas has experienced a total of almost $50 billion in disaster losses, and only Florida, which sustained almost $67 billion in severe weather losses, ranked higher.
The Christian Science Monitor published a list of the top ten costliest weather catastrophes in U.S. history. In 1988, for example, 7,500 people died during a deadly heat wave and drought that caused almost $80 billion in losses. However, most of the destruction was caused by hurricanes, and seven of the disasters have occurred in the last 13 years.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina killed 1,833, caused almost $150 billion in property damage, and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Super-storm Sandy killed 159 people and generated losses of almost $66 billion. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew killed 61 and caused almost $45 billion in damages. In 2008, Hurricane Ike tore up Galveston, wiping out 80 percent of the residences on Galveston Island and reducing the population by almost 10,000 people. Ike killed 112 people and caused almost $30 billion in losses.
Less than one month after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, Hurricane Rita made landfall on the Texas-Louisiana border, killed 119 people and caused almost $20 billion in damages. The
year of 2005 also saw the arrival of Hurricane Wilma; this storm caused almost $20 billion worth of damages and killed 35 people. In 2004, Hurricane Charley weakened before making landfall in Florida. However, ferocious winds spawned 16 tornadoes in states from Florida to Virginia. Losses totaled $18.5 billion, and 39 people lost their lives.
If you or someone you know has sustained losses due to severe weather, contact a property damage lawyer for a free consultation. Flood damage, tornado damage and hail damage attorneys work to protect the rights of natural disaster victims. If an insurance company is hedging on your extreme weather claim, a catastrophic weather lawyer can advocate on your behalf for a rightful settlement and help you to collect all the compensation you are due.