Irma Impacts in the Caribbean

13:30 UTC  Thursday, September 7

Paul Wilson, vice president – Model Development, RMS

This morning, the RMS Event Response team has started to assess major damage in the Caribbean caused by Hurricane Irma, which has become the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record.

Our preliminary modeling for the Caribbean provides insights into the potential range of damage outcomes for each island that we understand to be impacted, including Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Saint Maarten and Saint Martin. It is already clear that damage ratios are high, particularly in Barbuda.

As well as the devastating loss for these islands and their communities, RMS insurance industry clients will be focused on estimating the insured losses. Based on our analysis, RMS estimates the total insured values (TIV) in Anguilla to be around US$1.6 billion, with preliminary modeling indicating the potential for 50 percent damage. Barbuda has lower insured exposure, at less than US$200 million, but has experienced even more severe damage, potentially upwards of 90 percent. Saint Maarten and Saint Martin have approximately US$6.6 billion TIV together, and could have experienced a 30 percent loss.

Of course, this is all preliminary and information from the ground remains uncertain. More information will come to light in the near term as reconnaissance efforts continue and the islands and their communities begin the long recovery process.

RMS believes that due to the continuing and frequent evolution of the forecasts and uncertainty around an eventual U.S. landfall later this weekend, it is too early to begin specifically modeling Irma’s potential industry-wide impact on the U.S.

However, RMS clients will be able to use our analytics to assess how the hurricane will affect their specific book of business and areas of exposure concentration, relative to the current forecast. Clients wishing to do this are advised to refer to earlier Irma-related posts on this blog, which provide guidance on analyzing the range of possible outcomes.

RMS is keen to provide modeling for U.S. impacts as early as possible.  At this stage, we anticipate that the situation and forecasts will be sufficiently clear by tomorrow (Friday) for this to happen.

Stay tuned.

Vice President, Model Development, RMS
Paul Wilson is a vice president in the RMS model development team leading the ongoing development of the RMS North Atlantic Hurricane and Storm Surge Models. Paul has a MSc. in Physics and a Ph. D. in Atmospheric Physics both from Imperial College London where his research focused on the application of extreme value statistics in the climate system and the impact of long‐ranged correlations on extreme events.

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