2018 Hurricane Season Predictions - Not Good!
Remember El Nino and La Nina? Bet you can’t remember which one may be a precursor for bad weather along the Eastern Atlantic and Gulf Coast. Keep reading I will explain the differences based on the expert’s analysis. But back to the forecast, the experts at Colorado State University just published their early prediction and let’s just say it’s concerning. While just a prediction based in large part on what is now or will be happening in the atmosphere, it none the less should be given serious consideration and serve as a wake-up call to property owners living in those areas.
Who can forget the 2017 hurricane season? For sure not all the people with claims still open or the insurance companies reopening files the field adjusters said were either closed with no claim (allegedly because of high hurricane deductibles) and in other cases because of shoddy adjusting practices. Now new dollar amounts have recently been published by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation for reported claim payments on Irma losses. Seems the folks who do the accounting were off a billion dollars or so as in billion dollars. The shortage in accurate accounting was explained as human error! Trust me, the cost for hurricane Irma in Florida will keep rising as more claims are reopened and large commercial claims settled. For folks who have claims tied up in the legal system, well it will likely be years before some of those claims settle.
Let’s get back to the upcoming 2018 hurricane season. Remember the predictions for last year were for more than a normal number of storms with 11 tropical storms forming of which 4 would become hurricanes. In fact, 17 tropical storms formed with 10 becoming hurricanes! Still not sure you should take hurricane predictions seriously? Take a look at this hurricane video taken in St. Maarten in the Leeward Islands where winds were sustained at 183 mph with gust over 200 mph for over 6 hours. And then there is Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. Last but not least, Hurricane Irma’s trip up the spine of Florida. Thankfully, we dodged a bullet on that one, well kind of given it was supposed to be a Cat 3 and not what actually happened (excluding the Lower Florida Keys) which for most of Florida was a Cat 1 hurricane. Folks the difference between a Cat 1 hurricane and a Cat 3 is exponentially bad!
So, what are the early predictions for summer/fall this year? And remember we are just approximately 55 days away from the June 1st official start of the 2018 hurricane season. Well, the esteemed meteorologist Dr. Phil Kiotzbach of Colorado State predicts 14 named tropical storms with 7 becoming hurricanes. AccuWeather forecast is for 12- 15 named storms with six to eight becoming hurricanes. Keep in mind that of the hurricanes predicted, as many as three are expected to be major hurricanes of 111 mph or greater.
So where are we now with our El Nino, La Nina friends? As a refresher, El Nino tends to suppress the development of Atlantic hurricanes. Its opposite, La Nina, tends to increase hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. Dr. Koitzbach says we are now in a weak La Nina pattern. However, the current thinking is that we will not see a strong El Nino in late summer/early fall, prime time for major tropical storm development. Based on the prediction of a weak El Nino in the Pacific combined with the other global weather patterns, including elevated sea water temperatures, things may be right for the outcome being predicted for this year’s storm season!
And remember, if you turned in a claim for damages from last year’s hurricane season and you have damage in 2018, the first thing the adjuster will ask for is proof of repairs for the prior loss. The easiest way for your insurer to reduce claim cost in a new storm season is for your current insurance company to declare your new claimed damage to be old damage from last year’s storm. I can promise you that without detailed documentation on the scope of old repairs and proof of costs of those repairs, (whether they were paid by your insurance as a covered loss or damages that were not paid because of high hurricane deductibles) you will be thrown in claim land hell. And less we forget there are other tactics insurance companies use to reduce claim payments.
As an example, in the Caribbean the adjusters always start out with the position that you are UNDERINSURED which means a penalty will be applied and taken off your settlement. Down there it is called the AVERAGE CLAUSE. In the States, it’s called CO-INSURANCE. The effect of both is that if you do not carry enough insurance to value, you will be hit with a penalty taken off any proposed payout by your insurance carrier.
So the takeaway is that you need to pay attention not only to documenting repairs from old damages, but also making sure you are covered for the right limits (value of the property). Also be aware of the perils or risks you are exposed to. A good example of this was Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas where the destruction there was not from wind but predominately by flooding which unfortunately for most folks, they did not carry flood insurance.
In summary, it is never too late to plan and think about how you and your family can best prepare for life, health, and safety issues as well as to plan to protect your property and prepare for mitigation issues to reduce your loss exposure.
Finally, remember your overall disaster plan, do you have one, is it updated?
Hurricane preparation or lack of one was clearly evidenced when Hurricane Irma was predicted to be a Cat 3 Hurricane in Florida. A local Costco store I visited was sold out of water within 15 minutes of opening their doors! Needless to say, stocking up on water is not a sufficient hurricane recovery plan. And yes, I was there with the rest of them but 15 minutes to late!
Let us know about your best practices hurricane preparation tips and we'll publish them in future blogs.