Natural Disasters Hit Real Estate Hard in 2018

January 18, 2019

Natural disasters struck the United States with a vengeance in 2018, as floods, wildfires, and hurricanes damaged thousands of homes and businesses. Eleven events in 2018—the third year in a row with an above-average number of catastrophes—led to $11 billion or more in residential and commercial losses, according to the newly released Natural Hazard Report from CoreLogic.

Road damaged by flood

© Howard County Government/Getty Images

“In 2018, the U.S. continued to experience damaging weather and natural catastrophes in high exposure areas, and in some instances, in regions that had been impacted in less than a year prior,” says Howard Botts, chief scientist at CoreLogic. “Hazards will always pose a threat to homes and businesses and knowing exactly what that risk entails is critical in helping ensure sufficient protection from the financial catastrophes that so often follow natural disasters.”

In 2018, there were more than 1,600 significant flood events in the U.S. Residential and commercial flood damage in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia from Hurricane Florence caused up to $28.5 billion in damages. Eighty-five percent of the residential flooding losses were not covered by insurance, the report showed. Texas, Maryland, and Wisconsin also saw 1,000-year floods last year, with some in areas that had experienced 1,000-year floods less than two years before.

Nationwide, 6 percent of properties are within the Special Flood Hazard Areas. But only about one-third of those properties have flood insurance policies.

In 2018, the Atlantic hurricane season had 15 named storms, including eight that became hurricanes. Hurricane Florence (Category 1) and Michael (Category 4) caused massive damage when they struck the U.S. About 700,000 residential and commercial properties saw catastrophic flooding and wind damage from Hurricane Florence. Michael struck the Florida Panhandle and caused up to $4 billion in residential and commercial insured losses from the wind and storm surge, according to CoreLogic’s report.

Unprecedented wildfires also wiped out real estate in 2018. “The number of acres that burned in 2018 is the eighth highest in U.S. history,” as reported through Nov. 30, 2018, according to CoreLogic. Eleven western states saw at least one wildfire that burned more than 50,000 acres. California and Oregon saw the most.

Northern California’s Camp Fire in November 2018 turned nearly the entire city of Paradise into ash. More than 18,000 homes and businesses were damaged. The Woolsey wildfire in Malibu destroyed more than 1,600 structures. These two wildfires alone caused up to $19 billion in total insured and uninsured losses, CoreLogic estimates.

2018 Natural Hazard Report,” CoreLogic (Jan. 17, 2019)