JPMorgan predicts Harvey will be a ‘top 10 most costly’ hurricane; up to $20 billion in losses

JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan told its clients Hurricane Harvey's cost could be $10 billion to $20 billion.

The eventual insured losses from Hurricane Harvey could be as much as $10 billion to $20 billion, making it one of the 10 most costly hurricanes to hit the U.S., according to a top Wall Street firm.

JPMorgan told its clients on Monday the hurricane's cost could be "slightly less" than one-quarter of the insurance industry's earnings.

Harvey, which hit Texas over the weekend initially as a Category 4 storm before being downgraded to tropical storm status, continues to linger over the state, with heavy rainfall that has lead to catastrophic flooding in the Houston and Galveston areas. "Harvey is expected to bring even more rain and flooding for another week," analyst Sarah DeWitt wrote in a note to clients Monday.

Hurricane Ike in 2008 was a Category 2 storm and resulted in $13 billion of insurance losses. DeWitt said some catastrophe modeling research firms predicted on Friday that insurance losses from Harvey could be in the low single-digit billions, but this was based on wind damage.

"Harvey appears to be more of a flood event and we think the loss estimates are misunderstood, she wrote. "While flooding is not covered under homeowner's insurance (it is sold by the government), it is covered under commercial insurance and could result in meaningful losses for the commercial reinsurers and insurers."

The analyst said State Farm, Allstate and Farmers have the highest market share of the Texas homeowner's and commercial property insurance market. 

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