Report: States Most Impacted by Natural Disasters

couple looking at destroyed house after natural disaster

(Credit: Canva)

by | Aug 21, 2023

couple looking at destroyed house after natural disaster

(Credit: Canva)

WalletHub has released a report addressing states most impacted by natural disasters, using two key metrics: the number of climate disasters causing at least $1 billion in damage since 1980 and loss amount per capita of said disasters.

Results included Mississippi at the top of the list with 10 natural disasters causing more than $1 billion in damages since 1980, with a total overall score of 92.08 out of 100 for most vulnerable. States in the Gulf Coast region, including Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Alabama, all fall in the top 10 as well. Many Midwestern states, including Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, represent the remaining top 10 most vulnerable states.

According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the United States has sustained 363 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where damages exceeded $1 billion, with a total cost of over $2.59 trillion. Further, in 2023, 15 climate disasters have occurred with losses exceeding $1 billion, also resulting in 113 deaths and significant economic ramifications for affected areas.

Perhaps more alarming is the increasing prevalence of climate disasters in recent years. The 1980-2022 annual average of climate disaster events is 8.1 events, but the annual average for the most recently reported 5 years, 2018 to 2022, is 18 events.

What These Numbers Could Mean for Risk Management and Insurance

Insurers are becoming increasingly concerned with the impact of climate change on investment risk. For instance, many home insurers have stopped covering high-risk areas such as California because of continued wildfire-related losses. Similarly, sustainable investing has arisen as an increasingly popular way to assess risk-adjusted performance.

At the same time, the highly vulnerable states named in the report will need financial support in addressing the impact of these weather events. The White House recently announced plans to allocate $575 million towards helping coastal and Great Lakes communities in the U.S. become more resilient to climate change-related natural disasters.

Mississippi and Louisiana, numbers 1 and 2 on the WalletHub list, respectively, are also the two states with the highest poverty rate in the country. This makes them highly vulnerable to such weather events and puts them in the greatest need of support when addressing weather crises that continue to worsen.

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