Insurers Can Stay Calm While Harvey Wreaks Havoc: Four Picks

The untold damage and misery caused by Hurricane Harvey is not just being felt by the residents of Texas. Markets were also singed by the tropical cyclone on Monday, with energy and financials bearing the brunt of the pain. Stocks of energy companies suffered after key refineries in Texas had to close due to widespread flooding. But losses for insurers were possibly the most alarming, with the iShares U.S. Insurance ETF losing 1%.

This was possibly a reaction to the enormous level of claims likely to be generated in the aftermath of this disaster. However, industry watchers think that the industry has the ability to absorb resulting losses and may even gain in the months ahead via higher rates. Adding select property and casualty insurers to your portfolio makes for a prudent option at this point.

Insurers Possess Sufficient Capital

Market watchers believe that insurers and reinsurers possess sufficient capital reserves to withstand the losses incurred by Hurricane Harvey. The damage generated by this Category 4 storm is yet to be correctly estimated. However, it is the fiercest hurricane to impact Texas since 2008. Even now, continuous rainfall is flooding the affected areas of the state. Current projections are that the hurricane may cost the U.S. nearly $30 billion.

However, insurers serving individuals and businesses currently sport appreciably high levels of capital. Additionally, they do not require such funds to back existing obligations. Given such a state of affairs, Hurricane Harvey is unlikely to dent insurers’ financial position. At most, insurers with business concentrated in the storm-affected areas would experience a fall in quarterly earnings.

Gains Likely in Months Ahead

In 2005, insurers had suffered losses in the immediate fallout of Hurricane Katrina. Yet, over the next three months, industry heavyweights such as Chubb Limited (CB - Free Report) , The Progressive Corporation (PGR - Free Report) and The Allstate Corporation (ALL - Free Report) notched up heavy gains. While Progressive and Allstate shares increased 20% and 10%, respectively, shares of Chubb skyrocketed over this period, gaining 27%.

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