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Florida Citizens drops Ian claim-count. Sees lower than expected numbers

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Florida’s property insurer of last resort Citizens Property Insurance Corporation said Friday that it is now estimating a hurricane Ian claim-count of around 100,000, down dramatically from its earlier assessment of a burden of over 225,000 claims being anticipated.

Florida Citizens logoNow, Florida Citizens has opted to go for the lower-end of the range its catastrophe modellers implied, which was 100,000 to as many as 150,000 claims.

The reason for opting for the lower-end is that the insurer is not seeing the numbers of claims it had been anticipating as you move into counties of Florida further from hurricane Ian’s landfall.

As if Friday October 14th, Florida Citizens had received almost half the hurricane Ian claims it is expecting, with 47,278 already filed.

The insurer said that, at first, it had accepted the risk modelers loss estimate but not their claims count numbers, so its staff had opted for the 225,000+ claims figure.

The reason being that Citizens staff thought damage and claims numbers would be far greater outside of the three-county area of Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota counties than it has so far seen.

The property insurer of last resort for Florida is also opting to stick with its previously published loss estimate range, of between $2.3 billion and $2.6 billion after hurricane Ian.

Now, this gives a more reasonable average loss cost-per-claim, of $23,000 at the lower-end, or $26,000 at the upper-end.

However, this still doesn’t factor in litigation and as we’ve highlighted before, hurricane Irma’s average claims cost for Citizens was $31,000, but if you then add 20% for inflation over the last five years that comes to around $37,000.

As a result, with an expected 100,000 or so claims, there is plenty of potential for Florida Citizens gross losses from hurricane Ian to rise above $3 billion and get closer to troubling some of its reinsurance arrangements.

On an industry-wide basis, as we explained Friday, Citizens CEO Barry Gilway had said his best-estimate for hurricane Ian’s losses was around $40 billion.

Now, Citizens has clarified this to say Gilway believes the hurricane Ian industry loss will be towards the lower end of a $30 billion to $67 billion range.

So, a little more clarity on what to expect from Florida Citizens, but still the cost-per-claim looks like it could likely be higher than the estimate currently suggests, so there is the potential for the overall gross loss from hurricane Ian to rise, although that will become clearer in time as the recovery process continues.

But, the fact the claims count expectation has been lowered is perhaps some positive news for the industry, suggesting wind-related claims may not be as widespread as initially assumed with hurricane Ian, outside of the immediate landfall region.

Read all of our coverage of hurricane Ian, and our analysis on the potential market losses, here.

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