It will be years before the true cost of Hurricane Irma is clear, but a team of Florida International University researchers estimates that the storm’s winds alone will set the Sunshine State back $19.4 billion.
Of that total, FIU’s researchers said, $6.3 billion of the bill goes to insurance companies, leaving homeowners to shoulder the other two-thirds of the losses. The worst hit areas are in Lee and Collier counties, where Irma came ashore.
“This is not surprising given the high level of hurricane deductibles and the less intense tropical storm in most of Florida,” Shahid Hamid, the FIU business professor who heads the research team, said in a statement.
Hamid’s team used the Florida Public Hurricane Loss Model — Florida’s benchmark for assessing insurers’ financial risks and setting premiums insurance customers will pay — to calculate the cost to homeowners. The estimate is based on preliminary wind data from NOAA and will change as better information is available.
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Flood loss will add another couple billion to the total damage amount, researchers said.
FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program estimates insured residential flood loss under the program will be around $5 billion to $8 billion. Insured commercial flood loss, most of which is covered by private insurers, could cost around $4 billion to $8 billion.
A study by information company CoreLogic showed the storm’s damage to the U.S. is estimated to be between $42.5 billion and $65 billion.