Damage from Hurricane Ida sent Louisiana’s property insurance market – already rattled by three major hurricanes in two years – into a full-blown crisis. (CBP/Glenn Fawcett/Wikimeida Commons)
By Taylor Kate Brown for Floodlight and the Guardian
Residents of coastal Louisiana are facing growing risks from flooding and extreme weather, with options for home insurance vanishing as insurers leave the state. But the fossil fuel industry operating nearby has no such worries.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals have been springing up along the fragile Gulf coast, securing insurance even as their product contributes to the climate crisis and its growing risks, including more intense hurricanes and increased coastal flooding that are driving away residents.
For large projects such as LNG terminals, risk is spread among many insurers; no one company is exposed to all of a terminal’s potential losses. The same is not true for insurance companies whose business is built around residential policies where hurricane damage can lead to millions of dollars of claims at once.
But that outcome is more than an actuarial calculation for residents: when Hurricane Ida made landfall in south-eastern Louisiana in 2021, an 8ft storm surge swept over a 6ft Mississippi River levee in Ironton, flooding and destroying much of the small town, even dislodging caskets from their tombs.
Damage from Ida sent Louisiana’s property insurance market – already rattled by three major hurricanes in two years – into a full-blown crisis. By the end of 2022, nearly two dozen insurance companies had either left the state or gone under.