Early Estimate of Tropical Storm Hilary’s Damage and Economic Loss: $9 Billion

By Don Jergler | August 22, 2023

AccuWeather’s preliminary estimate of the total damage and economic loss from Tropical Storm Hilary in the U.S. is $7 billion to $9 billion.

Hilary brought widespread flooding through Southern California, washing out roads and bridges, flooding cars and homes, and shutting down businesses.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency on Saturday as Hilary approached. More than 1,000 flights were canceled on Sunday, tens of thousands of power customers in California were without power from the storm, Sunday.

The storm continued its way up through Nevada and the northern Rockies, bringing continued heavy rain and flooding to the region. Las Vegas declared a state of emergency Sunday.

Hilary Hammers California With Flooding Rain and Blackouts

“As Hilary’s rain moved into the U.S, the storm was moving along swiftly at 20 mph or greater though still produced widespread heavy rain and associated flash flooding, especially in the mountains and the deserts,” AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter stated. “Had the storm been moving along at a more typical forward speed for tropical storms, such as 10-12 mph, rainfall could have been much worse than it was, with even more severe impacts.”

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara reminded the public that most homeowners’ and commercial insurance policies include wind and storm damage. Damage caused from fallen trees also is generally covered under all standard homeowner policies. However, he added, homeowners’ and commercial insurance policies typically exclude flood, mudslide, debris flow, and other similar disasters — unless they are directly or indirectly caused by a recent wildfire or another peril covered by the applicable insurance policy.

The California FAIR Plan, the state’s insurer of last resort, currently does not cover any storm-related damage unless a consumer has purchased a supplemental “difference in conditions” (DIC) policy from another insurance company.

An auto insurance policy may cover a vehicle if it is damaged in a flood if the owner has purchased comprehensive coverage.

“This once in a lifetime storm brought rainfall and wind damage, so it is crucial consumers understand their insurance coverage and know they have options and support,” said Lara. “I have alerted insurance companies to follow California law requiring they cover any mudslide, debris flow, or other damage that is caused by our recent wildfires so that people can recover quickly.”

The Department of Insurance has posted a fact sheet for consumers to answer questions about what their policies cover.

According to AM Best, the top homeowners multiperil insurers in California include:

  • State Farm Group (20.6%)
  • Farmers Insurance Group (14.5%)
  • CSAA Insurance Group (6.7%)
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance Cos. (6.4%)
  • Allstate Insurance Group (6.3%)

Associated Press Photo: A fire truck pulls away after a motorist became stranded in rising floodwaters caused by torrential rain brought by Tropical Storm Hilary, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023, in Palm Desert, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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