Insurers Say Charley Not as Devastating as Andrew

August 17, 2004

Initial reports from insurance companies with claims adjusters on the ground in Florida indicate that damage from Hurricane Charley, while extensive, was less than the state experienced when Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida in 1992.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) said reports from its members companies show a distinct difference between the two catastrophes.

“Charley was a much different hurricane than we’ve been exposed to in the past,” said John Eager, PCI’s senior director of claims services. “Hurricane Andrew hit a densely populated area and covered a wide swath, while Hurricane Charley was much more compact and its trail of destruction was much narrower. While the wind damage is high, companies are seeing a much smaller grouping of water damage claims which likely means the individual losses will not be as high, on average, as they were with Andrew in 1992 or Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

“We also know that Charley hit the Gulf Coast hard, but then it appeared to almost jump around and skip across the state, touching down and doing heavier damage in some segments of its path than in others – not staying in one area long enough to destroy everything in its path.”

Eager also said PCI members are reporting lighter than anticipated commercial losses so far, but damage to the agriculture industry could be significant.

Insurers say their claims adjusters are already noticing that construction and design lessons learned from Andrew made an impact 12 years later. “Homes and buildings that implemented improvements in building construction and roofing design weathered the storm much better than older structures,” said Eager. “Those who suffered damage to their roofs should talk to their insurer about replacing damaged roofs with newer, wind resistant shingles, and Florida homeowners who may be considering a new roof should take a lesson from Charley and use the new designs when selecting their next roof.”

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