In April, meteorologists at Colorado State University forecast a slightly below-average 2023 Atlantic hurricane season (opens a new window). For the season, which officially runs from June 1 through November 30, CSU predicted 13 named storms, including six hurricanes, two of which they expected would become major storms of category 3 or above on the Saffir/Simpson scale.
Through the end of July, four named storms have formed, including one category 1 hurricane (Don). Importantly, no tropical storms or hurricanes have made landfall in the U.S. so far this year, sparing businesses from potentially costly physical damage in an already difficult property insurance market (opens a new window).
Based on activity so far this year, one might conclude that CSU’s initial forecast was correct, and that we can expect calm for the rest of the season. Other developments, however, suggest that businesses must stay on alert rather than risk becoming complacent.
August through October likely to be active
Nearly 80 years of hurricane data analyzed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates that August through October is typically the busiest part of any hurricane season (opens a new window). And there are at least three reasons why organizations must stay vigilant for the remainder of this year’s season:
1. High ocean temperatures.“The global ocean has been record warm in 2023,” (opens a new window) NOAA recently reported, with high temperatures recorded in the Pacific Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. In the Florida Keys, for example, water temperatures reached as high as 92.48° on July 13. CSU cited “record warm sea surface temperatures” in the Atlantic as a reason for revising its forecast on July 6; researchers now predict an above-average season in 2023 (opens a new window).
2. Persistent and pervasive drought conditions. As of July 25, abnormal dryness and drought were affecting 44.9% of the U.S. population (opens a new window), according to NOAA. Affected regions included hurricane-prone portions of Florida and the Gulf Coast, where even a 30-mph wind — far below the hurricane standard of 75 mph — can knock down trees that have been weakened by lack of water. That means that a storm today can result in more severe damage than in a typical year.
3. The power of a single event. Regardless of how many storms actually form and make landfall this year, just one can have devastating effects on a company and its bottom line.
Preparing for potential claims
As you stay on alert for hurricanes and tropical storms during the remainder of 2023’s hurricane season, one area where you can focus efforts is on preparing for potential claims. An experienced insurance broker can help you organization potential claims, use internal and external resources to assess potential damage and costs, and accelerate your recovery.
Before you suffer a loss, it’s important you are ready to:
Immediately report a loss. Be broad in describing the type and extent of damage suffered, and specify the date of a loss and any affected locations.
Put your claim team into action. This team may include your risk manager, your broker’s property claim advocate and several department heads within your organization.
Document physical damage. Photos, videos, news reports and social media posts can all be useful here. A good best practice is to create accounting codes to track any expenses you’ve incurred to recover.
Assessing damage, disruptions and financial impacts. Consider the possible impact of a storm on your inventory, supplies, finished products and work in progress. And known that a full restoration of your business may take time.
For more information or help in managing a hurricane or tropical storm loss, contact a member of your Lockton team.