Irma, Harvey, Jose, Katia: The Costliest Year Ever?

By Laurie MeislerLaurie Meisler and Yvette Romero
|

People walk through the flooded waters of Telephone Rd. in Houston on Aug. 27. Photographer: Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

With costs still soaring from Hurricane Harvey, and Irma about to make landfall in Florida, the full economic impact is unclear. As the list of catastrophic storms gets longer with Jose and Katia forming, disaster budgets are being tested like never before.

For Harvey alone, risk-modeling company RMS estimated $70 billion to $90 billion in losses from wind, storm surge and flood damage, most of it in the Houston metropolitan area. In the case of Hurricane Irma, Barclays Plc estimated insured losses at $130 billion in a worst-case scenario earlier this week. That would put both storms among the world’s most costly catastrophes since at least 1970.

Costliest insured losses

Rank
Event
Insured loss ($B)
Victims
Date (start)
Country/region
1
Hurricane Katrina; storm surge, damage to oil rigs
80.7
1,836
Aug. 25, 2005
U.S., Gulf of Mexico
2
Earthquake (Mw 9.0) triggers tsunami; aftershocks
37.3
19,135
March 11, 2011
Japan
3
Hurricane Sandy; storm surge
30.1
237
Oct. 24, 2012
U.S., Caribbean, Canada
4
Hurricane Andrew; floods
27.4
43
Aug. 23, 1992
U.S., Bahamas
5
Terror attack on WTC, Pentagon and other buildings
25.5
2,982
Sept. 11, 2001
U.S.
6
Northridge Earthquake (Mw 6.7)
24.8
61
Jan. 17, 1994
U.S.
7
Hurricane Ike; floods, damaged to oil rigs
22.6
136
Sept. 6, 2008
U.S., Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico
8
Earthquake (6.1) aftershocks
17.1
815
Feb. 22, 2011
New Zealand
9
Hurricane Ivan; damage to oil rigs
16.4
181
Sept. 2, 2004
U.S., Caribbean, Venezuela
10
Heavy monsoon rains, extreme flooding
16.0
124
July 27, 2011
Thailand
11
Hurricane Wilma; torrential rains, flooding
15.4
35
Oct. 19, 2005
U.S., Mexico, Caribbean
12
Winter Storm Vivian
14.5
64
Feb. 25, 1990
Switzerland, Germany
13
Hurricane Rita; floods, damage to oil rigs
13.2
34
Sept. 20, 2005
U.S., Gulf of Mexico
14
Drought in the Corn Belt
11.5
123
July 15, 2012
U.S.
15
Hurricane Charley
10.0
24
Aug. 11, 2004
U.S., Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico

Costliest floods in the U.S.

Rank
Event
Type of flood
Year
Economic loss from flood damage ($B)
NFIP* losses as % of economic losses from flood damage
1
Hurricane Katrina
Storm surge
2005
140
17
2
Hurricane Sandy
Storm surge
2012
70
17
3
Midwest flooding
Freshwater
1993
57
1
4
Hurricane Ike
Storm surge
2008
15
22
5
Tropical storm Allison, inland flood
Freshwater
2001
15
13
6
Iowa and Midwest flood
Freshwater
2008
13
1
7
Hurricane Ivan
Storm surge
2004
11
22
8
Severe storms and flooding in Louisiana
Freshwater
2016
10
21
9
Northern Plains, Upper Midwest flood
Freshwater
1997
8
4
10
West Coast Flood
Freshwater
1996
7
1