Saturday, August 17, 2013

Should We Live in Fear of Natural Disasters?

We live in a great country, which has afforded many people the opportunity to excel and to make goals which have a realistic chance of becoming reality. On the flipside, so to speak, we in live in a country that appears to have more than its share of natural disasters. It seems that every few months, if it's not an avalanche in one of the mountainous regions in the West, it is tornadoes wreaking havoc in the Plains; add to that wildfires out in the West and, somehow without exception, hurricanes hitting the Eastern seaboard, often targeting Florida and the rest the Gulf States. It's almost as if the calendar is set up so that every few months, we get hit with some unpleasant natural phenomena.

How Have We Been Doing?

Perhaps not surprising for a country which prides itself on law and order, as well as statistics, there have been those that have been keeping track of the types of disasters that we have been subject to, how many people been involved in even the economic cost related to them. Everyone recoils in horror when they see on the news the latest information about a hurricane or a tornado. But the numbers are actually quite startling when one starts to compile the big picture, so to speak. Ready?

A Quick Tour through the Last 30 Years

It is worth bearing in mind that sometimes, the damage and suffering caused from events such as hurricanes are not just the initial impact of the winds themselves, which can obviously level entire buildings. The ensuing flooding takes its additional toll that can often be far worse than the initial event itself. One comprehensive study identifies 640 individual events in the last 30 years. Of these, almost 400 of them were related to storms. The next most frequent disasters are floods, which occurred over 130 different times. In third place, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, are wildfires, with only 24 major recorded occurrences. What's really surprising is the fourth-place contestant: earthquakes. Earthquakes? One hardly ever hears about them on the news these days. It would be interesting to know exactly where they are occurring, and who is affected by them.

The Real Cost

Understandably, the main concern is loss of human life. The same study indicates that over 12,000 people were killed by natural disasters during the last three decades, which is a shockingly large number. Perhaps also surprisingly is the number of people affected by these disasters: 27 million! The other metric which many would find relevant is the economic cost to the US economy. Here the numbers really start to jump off the charts, with the total economic impact estimated at over $540 trillion. No wonder we pay ever greater attention to the weather reports: there's real danger lurking out there.

Keeping Your Home Protected

It's worth bearing in mind that a closer look at the statistics above indicate that over 70% of the damage caused over the last 30 years has been related to storms or floods. This is why it is very important that residents in Florida have the very best Florida homeowners insurance coverage possible. Unfortunately, it's not really a question of if, but more of when the next natural disaster will strike. A responsible homeowner will want to make sure that their insurance adequately covers their property and all their possessions at their full replacement value.

In the best case scenario, such an insurance policy will not have to go into effect, but given the statistics, chances are it will at some point. It's better to be prepared than sorry.

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