Storm Ophelia losses could be as much as $1.8 billion: Reports

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Storm Ophelia could result in damages to Ireland worth up to €1.5 billion (US$1.8bn), after becoming one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in more than half a century, with the hit to insurance and reinsurance interests considered relatively significant, according to industry reports.

Storm Ophelia recently battered parts of Ireland with winds of up to 150kmh in some parts, claiming the lives of at least three people, in what’s been described as one of the worst storms to strike the country in more than 50 years.

According to reports in the Ireland Independent online, citing disaster risk modeller Chuck Watson, of Enki Research Centre in Savannah, Georgia, the current estimate is for an impact of €1.5 billion, half of which is attributed to physical damage, with the remainder being economic disruptions.

Furthermore, the article states that an additional €253 million (US$298mn) of damage from the storm is expected in the UK.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Insurance Ireland, Kevin Thompson, speaking on RTE’s morning Ireland radio show recently, said it was too early to say if the event would lead to higher insurance premiums for consumers, a view shared by the CEO of Ireland’s only listed insurer, FBD Holdings.

Other, early estimates for the cost of the storm give a range of between €500 million and €800 million, but do stress that it will take some time for the actual economic and insurance or reinsurance impact of storm Ophelia to be understood.

Reports from Ireland highlight FBD’s comprehensive reinsurance programme as a tool that will reduce the financial impact to the company, but the firm did warn that numerous clients would be affected owing to the storm’s severity.

Ophelia become the furthest east storm to reach major Category 3 status, prior to its landfall in Ireland, and defied the beliefs of many meteorologists as it maintained strength nearing the Azores.

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