BoatUS hurricane damage estimate tells tale of two storms

The recent BoatUS estimate of recreational boat storm damage from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma is strikingly close to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy,

BoatUS estimates released this week indicate more than 63,000 recreational boats were damaged or destroyed as a result of the two recent storms, with a combined dollar damage estimate of $655 million (boats only).

Hurricane Sandy remains the single-largest industry loss with more than 65,000 boats damaged and more than $650 million in estimated losses.

Breaking down the 2017 season storms, Hurricane Irma damaged or destroyed 50,000 vessels with approximately $500 million in recreational boat damage. About 13,500 boats were damaged or lost costing $155 million in boat damage as the result of Hurricane Harvey.

“These two storms were as different as night and day,” said BoatUS Marine Insurance Program Vice President of Claims Rick Wilson. “The boats that were hit the hardest by Harvey were located on a relatively small slice of Texas coast, while we saw damage to recreational vessels from Irma in every corner of Florida.”

The BoatUS Catastrophe Team recently completed two months of field operations arranging for repairs, salvage or wreck removals for BoatUS Marine Insurance program members and GEICO Marine Insurance customers.

“While Hurricane Irma’s losses are significant, it could have been much worse,” Wilson added. “Irma traveled up Florida’s West Coast and not the East, which was initially forecast. While locations in the right front quadrant of the storm such as Big Pine Key and Marathon were hit hard with a Category 4 storm, Irma lost strength as it approached the mainland and swept up Florida. As the storm passed east of Tampa Bay, waters receded and came back gradually, lessening surge damage.”

BoatUS Public Affairs Vice President Scott Croft traveled with the field teams, and visited with a number of boaters.

We had people start in Texas and they never went home,” he said. “Rockport, Port Aransas, and Aransas Pass looked like a war zone,” Croft said, referring to Hurricane Harvey’s path of most destruction. “In Florida, while we had losses everywhere, if Hurricane Irma had gone up the east coast of Florida, the damage totals certainly would have surpassed Sandy.”

Croft said that the overall impression that he received while working in the field was that most people did the right thing with their pre-hurricane preparations. Nevertheless, some damage was shocking.

“Hurricane Irma really showed that you can do your best, but at the end of the day, there are just some storms that overcome anything that you can do short of hauling the boat out of the water,” Croft said. “Some boats will never be found. We found pieces no bigger than the size of a beach towel.”

Croft said he did receive some encouraging news from boaters regarding replacement of losses.

“Everybody said they were going to buy another boat,” Croft reported. “There wasn’t anybody who said, ‘That’s it.’ That’s what happens sometimes. Losing a boat in a storm can be the last straw.”

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