Many Americans will remember 2017 by its record-setting climate events. Before year’s end, Congress hopes to authorize $81 billion in wildfire and hurricane relief. Many homeowners now have to rebuild their homes or prepare for next year’s potential disasters.
“This year has been absolutely scary,” says Michael Angelina, executive director of the Maguire Academy for Insurance and Risk Management at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
Angelina, who has over 25 years of experience as an actuary and risk officer, researches the effects of climate change and natural disasters on the insurance industry for the American Academy of Actuaries. He gathers and analyzes climate data across the United States and Canada, looking for extreme temperatures, sea levels, wind density, precipitation and drought, and presents his findings to industry professionals and policy makers.
The recent increase in climate events puts homeowners at risk. “Considering all of the disasters we have seen this year,” says Angelina, “I estimate the insurance industry has paid out about $80 billion in losses.”
And those losses trickle down to consumers. Angelina estimates homeowners can expect premium increases between five and 20 percent.
As the reality of climate disasters becomes all too real, Angelina offers advice to property owners looking to prepare themselves:
Review your current coverage. Wildfires are covered under homeowner’s insurance, but floods and water damage are not. “If you live in a flood prone area,” says Angelina, “it’s worth it to buy extra flood insurance.”
Choose a well-known carrier. According to Angelina, big insurance companies can afford to pay out large claims, should a major disaster strike.
Make your property as resilient as possible. Though it requires some research, strategic construction decisions can better equip your home to weather disaster. Angelina recommends strong wind shutters, a water drainage system and — most of all — a strong roof.