2017 is on track to be a record-setting year for huge natural disasters in the U.S.

natural-disastersNot a surprise for anyone remotely following the news these days to understand the year we have had regarding natural disasters. For the first nine months of 2017, the United States has endured 15 disasters that each cost $1 billion or more and collectively claimed 323 lives, all linked to weather and climate, according to the latest data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

2011 set the record for billion-dollar disasters with 16 by year’s end, the National Centers for Environmental Information reported. With 15 major natural disasters this year, 2017 is on par with that record-setting year and shows no sign of slowing down. Clean-up and recovery efforts after one of those major hurricanes continue in Puerto Rico three weeks after Hurricane Maria roiled over the entire island for more than 12 hours.  And maybe I should not have been, but I was surprised to hear that there are still clean-up efforts from when Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana 12 years ago.

Nationwide, one of the biggest gaps in preparation and recovery is whether or not states have long-term recovery plans. Most states don’t, according to a PBS report. After first responders have saved all they can save, few states have a plan in place to rebuild. And despite years of predictions from climate change experts who warn that rising sea levels will produce higher storm surges creating more devastating floods and damage, few U.S. homebuyers take disaster risk into account when they want to settle down. According to a February 2017 survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, only 22 percent of Americans thought about natural disasters when they thought about where to buy a home.

As an industry that focuses on risk mitigation and insurance financing, it is difficult to digest this unsettling statistic.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

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