Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Urges Flood, Hurricane Preparedness

May 25, 2010

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon kicked off his summer storm tour to raise awareness for hurricane and flood preparedness by urging consumers to protect themselves and their property against Louisiana’s most frequent and unpredictable natural disasters.

Experts are predicting an “above average” 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project forecasters predict that 15 named storms will form during this hurricane season. Of those 15, eight are expected to grow into hurricanes, with four becoming intense hurricanes, which are Category 3 storms like Rita and Katrina with sustained winds of at least 111 mph. The Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 through November 30.

“Currently, only 29 percent of the state’s households have flood insurance. It is imperative that our residents take action to guard against this risk,” Commissioner Donelon said.

Only 483,966 out of 1.6 million households in Louisiana currently have flood insurance.

Hurricane Gustav caused more than $2 billion in paid, insured property damage claims in Louisiana, which includes $92 million in flood claims.

Hurricane Ike caused $406 million in insured property damage claims, including $309 million in flood claims.

Hurricane Katrina caused $13.2 billion in flood claims with the average claim being $95,000. Hurricane Rita caused $207 million in flood claims with an average claim of $64,000.

Although storm surge caused by hurricanes and tropical storms can wreak havoc on coastal areas, some of the most damaging floods occur hundreds of miles from the shoreline, days after the storm’s initial landfall.

As hurricanes and tropical storms move inland, torrential rains and high winds intensify the risks of flooding by rivers and streams. In fact, rains associated with Hurricane Gustav caused extensive flooding in areas as far north as Alexandria and Monroe.

The risk of hurricanes and related flooding includes the Gulf Coast and entire Eastern seaboard. Many scientists predict warmer waters in the Atlantic will be fuel for stronger hurricanes over the next 15 to 20 years – and storm surge can be a major factor for coastal areas. Flood insurance covers flooding from tidal and storm surge where other policies may not.

Source: Louisiana Department of Insurance

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