Sustainability Infrastructure

One in 10 homes in the US affected by climate change disasters in 2021, report says

Firefighters extinguish a burning house Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, in Whittier, Calif. At least two homes were destroyed in a brush fire that blackened about four acres in Whittier area Thursday.  Ringo H.W. Chiu/ AP

Story at a glance

  • A new report estimates that in 2021, nearly 15 million homes across America were impacted by severe natural disasters.
  • The disasters caused an estimated $56.92 billion in property damage.
  • That’s made the cost of homeowners insurance skyrocket, as each natural disaster carries unique risks and potential damages.

In 2021 alone nearly 15 million homes across America were ravaged by natural disasters, from wildfires and hurricanes to blizzards and tornadoes. And that cost an estimated $56.92 billion in property damage. 

CoreLogic, a global property data company, published its 2021 CoreLogic Climate Change Catastrophe Report which analyzed over 120 million residential structures across the country. The results showed that about 1 in 10 U.S. residential properties were impacted by natural disasters last year.  

Over the years, natural disasters have increased in frequency and severity, and that’s impacted regions in parts of the U.S. that were unprepared to handle the situation. In its wake, the disasters led to economic disruption, job displacement and other destruction of real estate assets. Take the state of Texas, which experienced record-breaking cold temperatures last year that resulted in the state’s power grid nearly collapsing.  

Millions of Texans were left without power during low temperatures, snow and freezing rain. At least 11 people were killed as a result of the winter storm. 


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On the other side of the country, wildfires in California are expected to grow by the end of the century due to climate change. Researchers estimated the number of large fire days will increase from 36 days a year to 58 days under a moderate greenhouse gas emission scenario. It could jump up to 71 days a year under a high emission scenario.  

However, out of all the different types of severe weather events, CoreLogic found winter storms impacted 12.7 million homes across the U.S., causing 15 billion in property damage. Second was hurricanes, which impacted 1.2 million homes and caused 33 billion in property damage.  

The reconstruction costs that stem from property damage are hefty, and the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the cost of rebuilding homes and infrastructure. That’s also reflected in the cost of homeowners insurance, with CoreLogic’s report calculating from 2017 to 2020 the total written premium in the state of California for dwelling fire and homeowners’ insurance combined increased by more than 27 percent, from $8.7 billion to $11.1 billion. 

The risk of severe weather isn’t consistent, as every natural disaster has its own unique consequences. For wildfires, damage caused by fire, smoke, ash, odor and burn are all factors that play into the damage properties could sustain and how much insurance coverage will cost. Hurricanes carry risk factors related to damage caused by wind, storm surge and inland flooding. 

Winter storms can cause damage to homes related to water, burst pipes, poor insulation and other storm effects. 

CoreLogic says the bottom line is for all parties to understand the possible severity of potential natural disasters, from insurers, mortgage and financial professionals to homeowners themselves. Such preparedness can protect homeownership, insurer portfolios and shield the housing market from collapse. 

“Insurers and lenders can leverage the latest technologies and work cross-functionally to better understand this risk, protect homeowners and enable faster recovery times,” said Tom Larsen, principal of CoreLogic’s industry solutions. 


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