Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), the nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety group for recreational boaters, estimates that more than 63,000 recreational boats were damaged or destroyed as a result of both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, with a combined dollar damage estimate of $655 million (boats only). These numbers are strikingly close to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which remains the single-largest industry loss with more than 65,000 boats damaged and more than $650 million in estimated losses.
Breaking down the 2017 season storms, Hurricane Irma damaged or destroyed 50,000 vessels with approximately $500 million in recreational boat damage. About 13,500 boats were damaged or lost costing $155 million in boat damage as the result of Hurricane Harvey.
“These two storms were as different as night and day,” said BoatUS Marine Insurance Program Vice President of Claims Rick Wilson. “The boats that were hit the hardest by Harvey were located on a relatively small slice of Texas coast, while we saw damage to recreational vessels from Irma in every corner of Florida.” The BoatUS Catastrophe Team recently completed two months of field operations arranging for repairs, salvage or wreck removals for BoatUS Marine Insurance program members and GEICO Marine Insurance customers.
“While Hurricane Irma’s losses are significant, it could have been much worse,” added Wilson. “Irma ultimately traveled up Florida’s West Coast and not the East, which was initially forecast. And while locations in the right front quadrant of the storm such as Big Pine Key and Marathon were hit hard with a Category 4 storm, Irma lost strength as it approached the mainland and swept up Florida. As the storm passed east of Tampa Bay, waters receded and came back gradually, also lessening surge damage.”