Disasters can happen at any time and anywhere. But some places experience more than their fair share of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and severe weather.
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Where have these damaging events occurred most frequently and severely? Kiplinger.com worked with the Property Claim Services unit of Verisk Analytics, a leading source of insurance risk information, to identify the ten states that have suffered the biggest property losses from disasters over the past decade. If one of these disasters strikes where you live, make sure you have enough insurance coverage to protect your finances.
Types of Disasters (2002-2011): 2 tropical storms, 7 hurricanes and 20 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $32.2 billion
The Pelican State has the unfortunate distinction of being the most disaster-prone state in the nation, largely because of Hurricane Katrina, which was the costliest disaster in U.S. history. Many of Katrina’s victims discovered they didn’t have enough insurance to cover the damage from the August 2005 hurricane. Make sure you have enough coverage before storm season strikes.
Types of Disasters (2002-11): 3 tropical storms, 8 hurricanes and 12 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $31.4 billion
Like Louisiana, Florida gets battered by hurricanes and tropical storms in late summer and early fall. The Sunshine State suffered through four major hurricanes (a record) in 2004 alone. It also has the highest number of tornadoes per square mile of any state (Texas has more tornadoes annually, but it is much larger in land area), and central Florida is known as the lightning capital of the U.S. If you live in Florida, we recommend that you do a thorough inventory of your insurance policies to make sure there aren’t any gaps in storm-related coverage.
Types of Disasters (2002-11): 1 wildland fire, 1 tropical storm, 4 hurricanes, 7 winter storms and 53 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $24.9 billion
Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are as common as tumbleweed in the Lone Star State. Cities close to the southern coast, such as Galveston and Houston, are often in the bulls-eye of destructive hurricanes that gain strength over the Gulf of Mexico, such as Hurricane Ike in 2008. If you live in a state plagued with so many different types of disasters, it's crucial to know exactly what your insurance policy covers.
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Types of Disasters (2002-11): 1 winter storm, 2 tropical storms, 7 hurricanes and 26 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $15 billion
The Magnolia State took a pounding from Hurricane Katrina, with the storm surge and heavy rains causing extensive flooding. Many unfortunate homeowners discovered insurance doesn’t cover flood damage -- you have to buy a separate policy.
Types of Disasters (2002-11): 3 tropical storms, 5 winter storms, 6 hurricanes and 26 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $7.9 billion
Alabama was hit hard by tornadoes in April 2011, especially in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. The Yellowhammer State also takes regular hits from Gulf Coast hurricanes. In states where storm damage is common, we recommend homeowners know all the ins and outs of the insurance claims process.
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Types of Disasters (2002-11): 1 tropical storm, 3 hurricanes, 5 winter storms and 32 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $7 billion
The Volunteer State was among several southern states hit by the historic tornado outbreak between April 25 and 28 known as the 2011 Super Outbreak. To protect your home and finances from spring storms, make sure you know what damages are covered by your insurance policy and find out how to fill any gaps.
Types of Disasters (2002-11): 1 hurricane, 9 winter storms and 46 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $6.2 billion
The tornado that swept through Joplin May 22, 2011, resulted in the greatest loss of lives on record (158 deaths) and generated $2.16 billion in insurance claims, according to Insurance Information Institute analysis of data from ISO’s Property Claims Service.
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Types of Disasters (2002-11): 8 winter storms, 39 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $6 billion
Two words for the Sooner State: Tornado Alley. Severe storms and twisters are so much a part of the state's weather that the National Severe Storms Laboratory and Storm Prediction Center are located here. Most Oklahomans know how to protect themselves if a cyclone has been spotted. We recommend that homeowners in tornado-prone states set aside an emergency fund and take photos of all valuables in the event of an insurance claim.
Types of Disasters (2002-11):1 utility disruption, 2 hurricanes, 9 winter storms and 46 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $5.2 billion
Great Lakes-effect snowstorms blanket northern Ohio regularly in winter, and spring tornadoes plague the central and southern parts of the Buckeye State. Hurricane Ike blasted the Ohio Valley in 2008. The state also had more than 30 earthquakes between 2002 and 2007. Standard homeowners policies do not cover earthquake damage. If you are worried about earthquakes, we recommend you add an endorsement to your existing policy or buy a separate policy.
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Types of Disasters (2002-11):1 hurricane, 8 winter storms, 61 severe weather incidents
Estimated Insured Property Loss: $4.9 billion
Thunderstorm activity in Illinois ranks above the national average, and the state also is part of Tornado Alley. It also gets its share of severe winter weather from Great Lakes-effect snowstorms.