Risk Management

Global Warming Hasn’t Boosted Storm-Related Damages, Study Argues

Insured damages caused by hurricanes in the 1990s weren't unusually high, firm finds.
CFO.com StaffJuly 11, 2001

Contrary to some analysts’ claims, global warming hasn’t caused increases in catastrophic hurricane damages, contends a new study of insured hurricane damages from hurricanes affecting the continental United States in the 20th century.

Key findings of the study Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, according to a release issued today by the New York City-based risk management consulting firm, include:

  • When actual insured hurricane damages are adjusted to reflect current property values and the increase in the number of people living near coastlines, insured damages in the 1990s were not unusually high in comparision to other decades in the 20th century.
  • Hurricane Andrew did not produce the highest adjusted damages from a single storm. The September 1926 Miami hurricane did, producing $50 billion in insured damages. Andrew had $25 billion in insured damages.
  • While Atlantic hurricane frequency did rise in the second half of the 1990s, the number of hurricanes hitting the United States in that decade was actually the second-lowest of the 20th century.

Doug Collins, a Tillinghast Principal, contends that the study refutes the widely held belief that rises in hurricane frequency, whether they’re caused by global warming or cyclical phenomena, are fueling growth in insured damages.