The Insurance Council of Texas reported that insurance companies have begun to mobilize their catastrophe teams to prepare for the landfall of Hurricane Rita. Texas insurers are repositioning their mobile response teams and reserving blocks of motel and hotel rooms out of harms way but near coastal communities so they can rapidly respond to the expected deluge of claims from the hurricane’s aftermath.
ICT spokesman Mark Hanna said it’s too early to tell just where Hurricane Rita will hit, but with Category 5 winds, damage won’t be limited to the Texas coastline.
“Winds in excess of 100 miles an hour could easily strike Houston and could be felt as far away as San Antonio and Austin,” said Hanna. “Add to that the distinct possibility of tornadoes and flooding and insurers have the potential to face tens of thousands of claims.”
A number of insurance adjusters have been assisting Hurricane Katrina victims that have resettled in Texas, many of them in the Houston area. The state’s smaller insurance companies have begun contacting independent adjusters and putting them on notice to be prepared to move in to the hardest hit areas.
Texas has been relatively spared from destructive hurricanes for more than 20 years. The combined insured losses from Hurricane Claudette that struck Port O’Connor and Victoria in 2003 and Hurricane Brett that struck Kenedy County in 1999 fell under $200 million. A pair of hurricanes in 1989 caused relatively minor damage to the Galveston area. Hurricane Bonnie caused minor damage striking Sea Rim State Park in 1986.
The last major hurricane to strike the Texas coast was Hurricane Alicia with 115 mph winds that that roared through the San Luis Pass destroying homes and businesses from Galveston to Houston in 1983 causing $675 million in insured losses and killing 21 people.
Tropical Storm Allison remains the state’s most costly weather catastrophe dumping more than two feet of rain on Houston and flooding the city’s medical center and freeways. Allison’s insured losses reached $3.5 billion.
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