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If a major hurricane with a 1-in-100 chance of occurring in a given year were to hit downtown Miami, it would cause more than $250 billion in insured losses, according to a new report that blames soaring property values in disaster-prone areas.
Since Hurricane Andrew struck south of Miami in 1992, coastal property values in Florida have risen from $870 billion to over $3.7 trillion—more than a fourfold increase, according to the report from disaster modeling experts Karen Clark & Co. Overall, US property values have increased more than nine percent since 2012.
Read More Natural disaster losses declined in 2014
The Clark report notes that in most cases, the potential insured losses from major urban disasters are much larger than what most insurers have assumed their maximum losses could be.
A similar event on the Texas coastline would cause insurance industry losses above $100 billion, compared to the estimated Probable Maximum Loss (PML) of $40-50 billion, the report said.
The report concluded that estimates of potential maximum loss can give a false sense of security, since these are significantly below the expected losses for a 100-year hurricane event.
Although no major hurricane has struck a densely populated urban area in decades, if such a natural disaster makes a hit, the property damage and economic loss will far exceed the losses from Hurricane Katrina and the recent Superstorm Sandy, Clark wrote.