Hurricane Ian brought catastrophic damage to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in Florida. High winds, storm surge, and torrential rain destroyed or severely damaged homes and businesses as Ian struck the west coast of the state. Many property owners will file claims with their insurers seeking coverage for these losses.
Hurricane losses can create distinct disputes between insured and insurer beyond the usual disagreements about valuation or cost of repair. For example, many policies that cover property damage from wind and rain exclude coverage for damage as the result of flooding. As a result, the issue of whether property damage during a hurricane was the result of covered events such as wind and rain (or an excluded risk like flooding) will be disputed in many claims arising from Hurricane Ian.
Lex Machina data from past hurricane litigation in Louisiana can help insurers, insureds, and counsel anticipate the scope of insurance litigation arising from Hurricane Ian. Two very damaging hurricanes struck the Louisiana Gulf Coast recently, Hurricane Laura in the western part of the state in 2020 and Hurricane Ida on the eastern side in 2021. The chart below shows federal court case filings of hurricane-related insurance cases in the Western District of Louisiana:
Looking at the Eastern District of Louisiana, where Ida came ashore in 2021, the case filing trend is similar:
As the result of Hurricanes Laura and Ida, over 7,000 insurance cases have been filed in the Western District and about 1,800 in the Eastern District. 2023 will likely bring more new case filings, especially in the Eastern District of Louisiana as more insurance claims move from the claim stage to litigation.
Most cases arising out of Hurricane Ian will be filed in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. As seen below, these two Districts already have received a significant number of hurricane-related insurance cases arising from Hurricanes Michael and Irma in 2018.
Based on the historical data from the Louisiana courts, we should expect to see several thousand insurance cases filed in the Florida federal district courts in 2023 and 2024 as disputed claims arising from Hurricane Ian are litigated in federal court. Lex Machina will gather and analyze the data as these cases are filed, litigated, and resolved, in order to provide Lex Machina users data-driven insights not available anywhere else.