Hurricane Florence continues to strengthen and an ”historic” landfall in the Carolinas, where State Farm dominates the homeowners market.
Catastrophe data from JLT Re found confidence is increasing that Florence will hit North and South Carolina as a major - if not high-end category 4 hurricane - Thursday night.
State Farm dominates the homeowners market in North Carolina, with almost a fifth the state’s premiums.
Analysis from AM Best found the insurer writes over $469.1mn of direct multi-peril homeowners premiums in North Carolina alone.
The US insurance giant also writes over $350mn of homeowner premiums in state’s southern neighbour, representing 23.1 percent of premiums.
North Carolina FB Mutual and Allstate Indemnity also have a meaningful share of the region’s homeowner premium with 12.5 percent and 4.8 percent of market share respectively.
Erie Insurance has the highest share of in-force premiums for multi-peril commercial in North Carolina with 7.5 percent of the market. North Carolina’s Cincinnati Insurance Company and Nationwide Mutual are also major players with 5.9 percent and 3.6 percent of market, respectively.
State Farm, Owners Insurance and Ohio Security are the dominant commercial insurance players south of the border.
The National Hurricane Center currently predicts a major hurricane landfall with sustained winds blowing at between 125 mph and 150 mph in conjunction with flooding from storm surge and rainfall of 1-2 feet.
Strong winds in conjunction with several feet of rain will cause major flooding and increased risk of treefall; the heaviest deluge will extend from North Carolina to Virginia and West Virginia.
The European operational model issued late on Sunday shows an outcome hitting northern South Carolina and southern North Carolina.
Risk modeling firm RMS said: “Florence will be the strongest hurricane to make landfall over North Carolina since Hazel in 1954 – this would be a major event for the insurance industry.”
According to insured loss simulations from JLT Re, multiple aspects of Florence continue to raise concern for a “historic Carolinas hurricane late this week.”
The reinsurer said that whilst it is too early to provide a preliminary loss estimate for Florence, estimates based on historical hurricanes peg potential insured losses as high $20bn.
Two of the “best-fit” historical hurricanes with a similar track to Florence are Hurricanes Hugo and Hazel which hit the region in 1989 and 1954 respectively – both had an insured loss range of $10bn to $20bn for wind and storm surge.
Other scenarios are below $10bn of insured loss with lower intensity or impacting less populated regions.
Tropical storm Isaac is expected to become a hurricane before hitting the Lesser Antilles on Thursday.
The islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe are at highest risk of a category 1 or 2 hit as well as impacts to islands further north to St Kitts and Nevis.
Dominica took a direct hit from Maria last year as a category 5 hurricane.
Hurricane Olivia in the central Pacific is likely to be downgraded to a tropical storm before hitting Hawaii midweek, marking the third storm to impact Hawaii this year.