Claims News Service, June 24, 9:07 a.m. EST — The string of properties speckling the U.S.Golf and East coast serve as a reminder of what is at stake when the next hurricane sweeps through the area. According to AIR Worldwide, the increase in the number and respective values of exposed properties along the coast remains the largest factor affecting insurers’ hurricane risk today.

The significant surge in coastal properties is said to be driven by population growth and “increased standard of living.” In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Boston-based provider of risk modeling software and consulting services generated a report — The Coastline at Risk: Estimated Insured Value of Coastal Properties — which raised the issue of global warming’s possible link to the frequency and severity of hurricanes. In the years since, experts have yet to reach a definitive conclusion as to a correlation, but they do agree that more coastal dwellings today than ever are in harm’s way.

AIR released an update to its earlier report based on estimates for insured property values during December 31, 2004 through December 31, 2007. The data compiled indicated that the insured value of coastal properties in the U.S. continued to grow at a compound annual growth rate of just above 7 percent.

“Despite the recent weakening of the real estate market in many areas, the insured value — or the cost to rebuild properties — has maintained an annual growth rate that will lead to a doubling of the total value every decade,” AIR said. “The compound annual growth rate of the total value of properties in coastal counties was only marginally higher than the overall growth rate for the coastal states, or 7.3 percent as compared with 7 percent.”

The data also showed that, as a consequence of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the total insured value of dwellings situated in the coastal counties of Louisiana has increased at the lowest compound average annual rate of all coastal states, at just over 2 percent.

“Mississippi coastal counties, also impacted by Hurricane Katrina averaged a 5 percent annual increase, the second lowest of all of the coastal states,” AIR added.

Some coastlines fared far better, as the reported insured value of residential and commercial properties in coastal counties of Florida and New York surpassed 2 trillion dollars each.

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