Insured losses from Hurricane Berylcould have surged if the Category 1 hurricane had struck a densely populated Texas city like Corpus Christi or Galveston. Hurricane Beryl, the second named storm of the 2024 season, made its final landfall over coastal Texas.

Hurricane Beryl formed as a tropical depression over the central tropical Atlantic on June 28. It quickly developed into a tropical storm and intensified over two days, reaching Category 4 status on June 30, the earliest on record for the Atlantic Basin.

Insurers in the United States may take a hit of about $2.7 bn from damage caused by Hurricane Beryl

The storm traveled over 4,000 miles since the National Hurricane Center named it as a tropical storm in the central Atlantic Ocean.

According to the NHC, Hurricane Beryl made landfall over Matagorda, Texas at 4 a.m. (9 a.m. UTC) as a Category 1 cyclone with maximum sustained wind speeds of 80 mph and a minimum central pressure of 979 millibars (mb).

Hurricane Beryl's Impact on Insurance Industry: Loss Forecasts

Beryl experienced an eyewall replacement cycle, weakening slightly, but regained strength and made landfall in Carriacou, Grenada as a strong Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph (see how U.S. P&C insurers are well-prepared for hurricane seasons).

Beryl continued to strengthen in the warm Caribbean Sea, becoming a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 165 mph on July 2.

Hurricane Beryl’s Meteorological Highlights

  • Beryl rapidly intensified from a tropical depression to a Category 3 hurricane in just 42 hours.
  • On July 2, Beryl became the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record, surpassing Hurricane Emily by over two weeks. It also became the strongest July Atlantic hurricane on record.
  • Beryl’s path extended from the Windward Islands to the Texas Gulf Coast, making three landfalls: Carriacou Island, Grenada on July 1; Tulum, Mexico on July 5; and Matagorda, Texas on July 8.
  • The storm re-intensified in the Gulf of Mexico, transforming from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane before landing in Texas.
  • Beryl generated accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) of over 35 (x 10^4 kt^2), accounting for more than 25% of the average season ACE, reaching levels typical of late August and early September.

Global re/insurer at Lloyd’s MS Amlin projects that the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season will be above average and potentially one of the most active on record.

Climate scientists at MS Amlin analyzed forecasts from 24 research entities, including private companies, universities, and government agencies.

Their consensus anticipates an average of 23 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. In comparison, the 2023 season recorded 20 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.

Insurance Industry's Loss for Hurricane Beryl

According to the Rating the States: 2024 Edition report from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), Texas ranks 16 (out of 18 states) in terms of building code adoption, enforcement, or certification and education of building officials.

The areas surrounding Matagorda Bay and close to where Beryl made landfall are examples of smaller, unincorporated towns that may not have adopted modern building code standards

Beryl brought life- and property-threatening storm surge flooding to coastal areas of Texas in addition to hurricane-force winds.

The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which quantifies overall hurricane activity by considering the number, intensity, and duration of named storms, is predicted to reach 204, significantly higher than the long-term average of 123 (see U.S. Insured Losses from Hurricanes).

The most severe storm surge flooding is most likely to occur on the northern and eastern edges of Hurricane Beryl where onshore winds pushed water onto land in areas of Texas like Freeport, Jamaica Beach, and Galveston.

Hurricane Beryl wind history

Hurricane Beryl wind history
Source: National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Beryl has made three landfalls during its lifetime. The first, a Category 4 hurricane, struck Grenada. The second hit the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 2 storm. Between these events, Beryl intensified to a Category 5 hurricane, the earliest recorded in history.

Beryl made its third landfall about 90 miles from Houston. It then turned north and northeast, maintaining hurricane status longer than expected.

The NHC reported hurricane-force gusts in western Houston. Damage to older, vulnerable structures, particularly roofs, is possible. The duration of these gusts resembles what is typically seen in a Category 2 hurricane.

Hurricanes Idalia and Ian in 2023 and 2022 demonstrate why landfall location matters.

Idalia, despite being a major hurricane at landfall, hit Florida’s Big Bend region, which is much less populated. Conversely, Hurricane Ian struck southwest Florida near Fort Meyers. While Ian was stronger, the difference in insured losses was significant.

The early appearance of such a severe storm points to how the length of the hurricane season, which usually lasts from June 1 through Nov. 30, is changing, according to Loretta Worters of the Insurance Information Institute.

“We’ve seen the season going later than usual, but now we’re seeing it start earlier,” Worters said in an interview. “And we’re seeing more frequent, more severe storms earlier in the season.”

Hurricane Beryl Track

Hurricane Beryl Track
Source: KCC

The storm surge reached six feet in some areas, flooding many vehicles due to high waves and the surge.

Hurricane Wind Insured Losses in the U.S., Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico

Hurricane Ian caused tens of billions in insured losses, whereas Idalia’s losses were just a couple of billion. Landfall location is crucial.

CoreLogic estimates total insured wind and storm surge losses in Texas to be between $700 mn and $1.5 bn. This is an initial estimate that may be updated with new data.

The estimated losses cover damage to residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural properties, including contents and business interruption. The estimate accounts for demand surge but excludes offshore exposure damage.

Estimated flood losses do not include those covered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Total insurable losses across Jamaica and the Cayman Islands will be between $400 mn and $700 mn. Estimated insurable losses in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula are also less than $1 bn.

The estimated losses encompass wind-only damage to residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural properties, including contents and business interruptions. Insurable losses cover damage to all modeled exposure types before applying any insurance terms, such as deductibles or limits. Losses to regional insurance programs are not included.

Overall losses for US insurers from the storm should be between $750 mn and $1.2 bn, according to an estimate from BMS Group.

The top three carriers in terms of potential exposure to hurricane losses in Texas are State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance with $6.1 bn, The Allstate with $4.2 bn and The Progressive Corp. with $3.4 bn, while The Travelers has $1.9 bn in exposure.

US insurers from the storm
Source: S&P

The storm is expected to bring 2-4 inches of rain as it travels northeastward into Michigan and northeast Ohio, but that amount could reach 4-8 inches in some areas.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Beryl to a tropical depression from a tropical storm on July 9 and put flood watches in effect from eastern Oklahoma to southern Michigan.

Impacts of Hurricane Beryl

Hurricane Beryl passed just south of Jamaica. The strongest winds in the storm’s eyewall did not impact Kingston, the most densely populated area.

According to the KCC US Hurricane Reference Model, privately insured losses from Hurricane Beryl are estimated at $510 mn in the Caribbean, $90 mn in Mexico, and $2.7 bn in the US.

The US estimate includes damage to residential, commercial, industrial properties, and automobiles, as well as business interruption. It excludes boats, offshore properties, and NFIP losses. Estimates for the Caribbean and Mexico do not include automobiles or business interruption.

A weather station at Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport recorded a maximum wind gust of 81 mph, with lower sustained winds.

Gallagher Re estimated that U.S. economic losses from Beryl would be at least $1 bn. Weather forecasting firm AccuWeather issued a preliminary estimate of $28 bn to $32 bn in damage and economic loss.

The southern coast of Jamaica, west of Kingston, experienced the strongest sustained winds as the storm moved west-northwest, but these areas are more sparsely populated.

Impacts of Hurricane Beryl

Impacts of Hurricane Beryl

Hurricane Beryl affected the Windward Islands in the Caribbean

The eye passed directly over Carriacou with 150 mph winds, causing extensive roof and structural damage. Ninety-five % of homes on Carriacou and Petite Martinique suffered damage or were destroyed. St. Vincent and the Grenadines experienced similar devastation, with 90 % of homes on Union Island destroyed. Barbados saw less severe damage but still had affected buildings.

After hitting Grenada, Beryl moved towards Jamaica and the Cayman Islands

The storm’s eyewall skirted Jamaica’s southern coast as a powerful Category 4 hurricane. Sixty-five % of Jamaica lost power. Many homes were destroyed or damaged. Officials reported that 38 % of public hospitals sustained roof and some structural damage. Additionally, 100 schools collectively incurred millions of dollars in damage.

Beryl made landfall near Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula on July 5 as a strong Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. Local officials reported minor damage but noted that tens of thousands lost power.

Beryl continued towards Texas

Beryl continued towards Texas, making landfall near Matagorda on July 8 as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds. Tropical storm-strength winds extended well inland, with sustained winds of 73 mph in Galveston Bay and 66 mph near Morgan’s Point. Over 2.5 mn homes lost power throughout Texas.

Reports indicated downed trees damaging homes and cars, roof and structural damage along the coast, and specific areas like Surfside Beach and Jamaica Beach. Damage was also reported in Galveston, College Station, Houston, and Pasadena.

CoreLogic estimates that total insurable losses across in Grenada; Barbados; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinadad and Tobago; and St. Lucia could be between $1 and $1.5 bn.

Damage in Grenada is driving the majority of the losses, and weather stations on this island recorded the highest wind speeds from this storm.

The estimated losses include wind-only damage to residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural properties, including damage to contents and business interruption. Insurable losses account for damage to all modeled exposure types prior to the application of any insurance terms (e.g., deductibles or limits). It does not include losses to any regional insurance pools


AUTHOR: Oleg Parashchak – CEO Finance Media and Beinsure Media

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