According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), climate change is leading to an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events across the U.S. — and it comes with a cost. In fact, the latest ValuePenguin study found that weather-related property damages reached $121.4 billion between 2017 and 2021. What’s more, around a quarter (24.2%) of these damages weren’t covered by property insurance.
This study will look at weather-related property damage in the U.S. over the past five years. Using NOAA data, we’ll highlight which weather-related events were most expensive and which states experienced the highest amount of weather-related property damage, overall and per household and business.
- Key findings
- About a quarter of weather-related property damage not covered by insurance, estimates show
- Flash floods biggest cause of weather-related property damage
- Texas ranks highest for amount of weather-related damages
- Hurricane-prone Louisiana has highest amount of weather-related damage per household, business
- Protect your property against weather events
- Between 2017 and 2021, severe weather caused $121.4 billion in property damages in the U.S. That averages to $940 per household and business. We estimate that more than three-quarters (75.8%) of these weather-related damages were covered by insurance, for a total of $92.0 billion. That leaves an estimated $29.4 billion not covered by property insurance.
- Flash floods were the biggest cause of weather-related property damage. During the period analyzed, flash floods caused $49.1 billion in property damages. That’s followed by hurricanes, which caused $36.1 billion in damages, and tornadoes, which caused $7.1 billion in damages.
- Weather-related property damages in Texas reached $58.3 billion. That’s the highest amount of damage in any state. Flash flooding, which caused $44.8 billion in weather-related damages in the state, was the leading cause.
- Hurricane-prone Louisiana had the highest amount of weather-related damages per household and business. If spread across each household and business in the state, Louisiana properties had $15,166 in weather-related damages between 2017 and 2021, with hurricanes as the No. 1 culprit. Texas and Oregon were next at $5,585 and $2,192 per property, respectively.
How we determined weather-related damages
Using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ValuePenguin researchers calculated the amount of property damages in the 50 states and the District of Columbia due to weather events between 2017 and 2021. To define weather events, we looked at 39 atmospheric-related climate conditions that impacted a community. These include:
- Precipitation: Hail, heavy snow, heavy rain, lake-effect snow and sleet
- Storms: Tornadoes, winter storms, ice storms, lightning and blizzards
- Winds: High winds, thunderstorm winds, strong winds, dust devils and funnel clouds
- Cyclones: Hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions
- Tidal events: High surfs, sneaker waves, seiches and astronomical low tides
- Overflows: Flash floods, storm surges, floods, lakeshore floods and coastal floods
- Temperatures: Extreme cold/wind chills, cold/wind chills, winter weather, excessive heat, frost/freeze and heat
- Atmospheric hazards: Dust storms, dense fog and freezing fog
- Other natural disasters directly caused by atmospheric conditions: Debris flow, droughts and avalanches
In keeping with our definition of a weather event, certain events tracked by NOAA were excluded. This includes events that aren’t categorized as (or directly caused by) atmospheric conditions — such as earthquakes and wildfires — and event types that didn’t result in property damage.
To determine the average amount of damages per property, we divided the total damage amount in a given state by the total number of households and businesses in the state. Following the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics definition, businesses were identified by their unique Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) issued by the IRS, which means that a business could be a singular establishment or a combination of establishments.
Researchers then estimated the amount of affected property covered by insurance based on data from Munich Re, a multinational insurance company.
About a quarter of weather-related property damage not covered by insurance, estimates show
Between 2017 and 2021, severe weather caused a total of $121.4 billion in property damage in the U.S. That’s around $24.3 billion a year, or an average of $940 per U.S. household and business.
But U.S. residents aren’t responsible for all these costs. While ValuePenguin estimates using Munich Re figures indicate that insurance covered $92.0 billion in weather-related damages over those five years, that means $29.4 billion in damages — or $5.9 billion a year — wasn’t covered.
Meanwhile, NOAA says that the number and cost of disaster-related events are rising. While the U.S. experienced 53 billion-dollar disasters (excluding wildfires) between 2012 and 2016, that jumped to 84 billion-dollar disasters between 2017 and 2021. This includes:
- 51 severe storms
- 18 tropical cyclones
- Seven flood events
- Four droughts
- Three winter storms
- One freeze event
From 1980 to 2000, around three-quarters of all disaster-related costs were due to billion-dollar disasters, according to NOAA. By 2021, that percentage had jumped to about 85%. Coupled with increasingly severe storms and sea level rise caused by climate change, growth on the U.S. coasts — the areas most vulnerable to disasters like hurricanes and flooding — also puts vulnerable coastal states at increased risk for higher disaster-related financial losses.
Flash floods biggest cause of weather-related property damage
Of every weather event analyzed by ValuePenguin, flash floods caused the most property damage despite occurring less frequently than other leading weather events. In total, flash floods caused $49.1 billion in damages between 2017 and 2021 — an average of $9.8 billion a year. Comparatively, hurricanes — the next leading cause of weather-related property damage — caused $36.1 billion in damages, or an average of $7.2 billion yearly.
However, the U.S. has experienced twice as many billion-dollar hurricanes than flash floods. In the past five years, just seven billion-dollar flash floods have occurred, compared with 14 billion-dollar hurricanes.
This may be due to differences in frequency and severity. Beyond just household and business property damages, a single tropical storm costs $20.3 billion on average — far costlier than floods, which average $4.7 billion per event. Though neither of these figures is exclusive to hurricanes or flash floods, the disparity between the two indicates that a hurricane is more likely to be classified as a billion-dollar disaster event. Therefore, flash floods may occur more often, but a single flash flood event is less likely to cause damages of at least $1 billion. It’s also important to note that flash floods often occur because of leftover rainfall from hurricanes and other tropical storms.
Another reason flash flooding may cause more monetary damages could be because more properties are at risk overall. Hurricane-force winds only travel about 150 miles inland on average, but flooding occurs in every U.S. state and territory — so while coastal states are generally the most at risk for hurricanes, flash flooding threatens any area that receives rain. Densely populated areas are also at higher risk for flash floods, which may also drive up the number and value of properties that experience flash flooding.
Flash floods aren’t the only risk. Another recent ValuePenguin study on flood risk found that climate change has increased the risk of flooding across the U.S., and many homeowners may be unaware of the risk to their properties.
Behind flash floods and hurricanes, tornadoes caused $7.1 billion in damages — an average of $1.4 billion yearly. Still, costly tornadoes were far more common than flash floods and hurricanes combined: Overall, there were 34 billion-dollar severe storm events that included tornadoes. The reason tornadoes may lead to lower monetary damages than hurricanes and flash floods may be because the vast majority of tornadoes are weaker overall. On average, tornadoes typically travel just 1 to 2 miles — a much smaller path than hurricanes.
It’s important to reiterate that some billion-dollar disaster events weren’t included in this analysis. Wildfires — which rank among the costliest disasters in the U.S. — were one particular event we didn’t analyze in this study, as property damage caused by wildfires wasn’t directly related to a weather event. However, a ValuePenguin report on wildfire damage found that 306,818 wildfires burned 39.2 million acres across the U.S. from 2016 to 2020.
Full rankings: Weather-related damages by disaster type (2017 to 2021)
Overall property damage
Overall insured (estimate)
Average annual property damage
Average annual insured (estimate)
|Flash flood||$49.1 billion||$37.2 billion||$9.8 billion||$7.4 billion|
|Hurricane||$36.1 billion||$27.4 billion||$7.2 billion||$5.5 billion|
|Tornado||$7.1 billion||$5.4 billion||$1.4 billion||$1.1 billion|
|Tropical storm||$6.1 billion||$4.7 billion||$1.2 billion||$931.9 million|
|Storm surge/tide||$5.4 billion||$4.1 billion||$1.1 billion||$819.8 million|
|High wind||$5.3 billion||$4.0 billion||$1.1 billion||$799.0 million|
|Hail||$4.8 billion||$3.6 billion||$954.8 million||$723.8 million|
|Flood||$4.0 billion||$3.0 billion||$803.6 million||$609.1 million|
|Thunderstorm wind||$889.6 million||$674.3 million||$177.9 million||$134.9 million|
|Debris flow||$873.6 million||$662.2 million||$174.7 million||$132.4 million|
|Strong wind||$486.5 million||$368.8 million||$97.3 million||$73.8 million|
|Heavy snow||$228.3 million||$173.1 million||$45.7 million||$34.6 million|
Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NOAA and Munich Re data
Texas ranks highest for amount of weather-related damages
By state, Texas saw the highest amount of weather-related damages, at $58.3 billion. Of this, an estimated $44.2 billion was insured, leaving $14.1 billion uninsured. Flash flooding, which caused $44.8 billion in damages in the state, was the leading cause of property damage.
This comes as the state has experienced 311 days of flash flooding across the past five years — of these, 151 led to property damages. This most notably includes flooding caused by Tropical Storm Beta, which made landfall over the coast of central Texas in September 2020. With some areas in Texas receiving up to 16 inches of rainfall, Beta brought new daily rainfall records to its largest city, Houston. In fact, NOAA reported that Beta brought the Houston metro area’s highest single-day rainfall since Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Overall, Texas experienced the following billion-dollar disaster events between 2017 and 2021:
- 31 severe storms
- 6 tropical cyclones
- 3 flooding events
- 2 droughts
- 1 winter storm
After Texas, Louisiana ranked second for total property damages, at $27.6 billion — but we’ll get to that state later. Meanwhile, Florida ranked third: The state saw $8.5 billion in weather-related damages, an estimated $6.4 billion of which would have been insured.
Hurricanes caused $4.8 billion in property damages in Florida, making it the leading cause of weather-related damages in the state. Of the state’s recent weather-related disasters, two back-to-back hurricanes in 2021 were particularly destructive — Hurricanes Ida and Nicholas, which struck in August and September of that year, led to $77.6 billion in total damages (beyond just property damages) across Florida, Texas and Louisiana.
Overall, Florida experienced the following billion-dollar disasters over the five years analyzed:
- 10 tropical cyclones
- 8 severe storms
- 1 freeze event
Crucially, Texas, Louisiana and Florida are among the most likely states to experience hurricanes. While the majority of states along the eastern U.S. coastline are in the most prevalent hurricane tracks, all three of the top states are at the highest level of risk — particularly in September.
In addition, NOAA finds that the severity of tropical cyclones — classified as hurricanes when maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph or higher — is increasing. While the severity of tropical cyclones is projected to increase by 1% to 10%, tropical cyclone rainfall rates are projected to increase by 10% to 15% — which means that flash flood events are likely on the rise, too.
Full rankings: Amount of weather-related damages in each state (2017 to 2021)
Total property damage
Overall insured (estimate)
Total property damage for that category
Overall insured for that category (estimate)
|Texas||$58.3 billion||$44.2 billion||Flash flood||$44.8 billion||$33.9 billion|
|Louisiana||$27.6 billion||$21.0 billion||Hurricane||$22.0 billion||$16.7 billion|
|Florida||$8.5 billion||$6.4 billion||Hurricane||$4.8 billion||$3.6 billion|
|Oregon||$3.8 billion||$2.9 billion||High wind||$3.2 billion||$2.4 billion|
|Colorado||$3.1 billion||$2.4 billion||Hail||$2.9 billion||$2.2 billion|
|North Carolina||$2.5 billion||$1.9 billion||Hurricane||$1.5 billion||$1.1 billion|
|Georgia||$2.1 billion||$1.6 billion||Hurricane||$1.5 billion||$1.1 billion|
|Tennessee||$2.0 billion||$1.5 billion||Tornado||$1.7 billion||$1.3 billion|
|California||$1.8 billion||$1.4 billion||Debris flow||$650.7 million||$493.2 million|
|Michigan||$1.6 billion||$1.2 billion||Flash flood||$652.2 million||$494.4 million|
|Washington||$1.5 billion||$1.1 billion||High wind||$1.1 billion||$806.8 million|
|Ohio||$817.0 million||$619.3 million||Tornado||$616.8 million||$467.5 million|
Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NOAA and Munich Re data
Hurricane-prone Louisiana has highest amount of weather-related damage per household, business
It’s important to note that the financial impact of weather-related disasters is relative to a state’s population size and economy. While Texas may have the highest amount of weather-related damages, the state was home to a robust 10.4 million households and firms as of 2019. Comparatively, in smaller states, the relative cost and impact may be more severe, meaning recovery can be much more difficult.
Louisiana is one such state. As mentioned above, Louisiana filed $27.6 billion in weather-related damage claims between 2017 and 2021. While that ranks it behind Texas for the total amount of property claims overall, with 1.8 million households and firms in the state as of 2019, the total weather-related damages were $15,166 per property— the highest average among any state. Of this, an estimated $11,496 per property was insured, leaving Louisiana homeowners and businesses at losses of $3,670 on average.
Hurricanes were the No. 1 culprit, causing $12,088 in damages per property. Of the 14 tropical storms the state experienced, six were classified as hurricanes while they were in the state. Separately, the billion-dollar disaster events that have affected Louisiana in the past five years include:
- 12 severe storms
- 8 tropical cyclones
- 3 flood events
- 1 winter storm
Texas leads in total cumulative costs, but it’s second overall for the amount of weather-related damages per household and business, at $5,585 per property. Behind that, Oregon saw $2,192 in damages per property, with an estimated $1,661 insured. High winds were the leading cause here, costing households and businesses $1,845 on average.
Although just 10 of Oregon’s 137 days with wind events resulted in property damages, some of the state’s more severe wind events — particularly those in 2020 — led to devastating damages. Above-normal temperatures were largely to blame for that year’s wind events, causing gusts from 50 to 70 mph in the greater Portland metro area and along the coast.
Aside from wind events, Oregon also experienced three droughts and one winter storm leading to billion-dollar damages.
Full rankings: Amount of weather-related damages per household and business in each state (2017 to 2021)
Number of households and businesses
Property damage per household and businesses
Overall insured per household and firm (estimate)
|8||North Carolina||4.2 million||$599||$454|
Source: ValuePenguin analysis of NOAA and Munich Re data
Protect your property against weather events
Extreme weather events can happen to anyone, and with climate change causing more volatile and unpredictable conditions, it’s best to be prepared. Divya Sangameshwar, ValuePenguin home insurance expert, offers homeowners the following advice to reduce property damages:
- Check your current coverage. According to Sangsameshwar, homeowners are typically partially covered against tornadoes and hurricanes with their homeowners insurance — but depending on your level of risk, additional coverage may be necessary. "Windstorm deductibles offer more coverage and can protect homes from damages caused by regular thunderstorms, straight-line winds, hail and named storms and hurricanes," says Sangameshwar. "Additionally, homeowners with properties at risk of flooding can (and sometimes must) purchase flood insurance."
- Don’t wait until an extreme weather event to shop around for insurance. Rather, Sangameshwar recommends reviewing your homeowners insurance coverage at least once a year. "Make it a regular practice to find out how much it will cost to rebuild your home from the ground up," Sangameshwar says, including using tools to determine your property’s latest flood risk score. "Use this information to adjust your coverage, deductibles and policy limits accordingly. If you feel that your homeowners insurance premiums are getting too expensive or that you aren’t getting the level of coverage you want, shop around for a better deal."
- Maintain your property to ensure your coverage. "Many things that aren't covered under your standard policy typically result from neglect and a failure to properly maintain the property," Sangameshwar says. "If you have overflows or backups from your sump pump, sewer system or drains, or a long-term water seepage problem from a leak you haven’t identified or fixed, home insurance and flood insurance will not cover the damage."
- Make home improvements to minimize extreme weather damages. Sangameshwar notes that some preventive measures can help make your property storm-resistant. In particular, she recommends ensuring that your home has proper insulation, fixing and sealing cracks and leaks, installing storm windows and installing flood alarms in low-lying areas.
Using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, researchers calculated the amount of property damages sustained in the 50 states and the District of Columbia due to weather events between 2017 and 2021. Certain events tracked by NOAA, such as earthquakes and wildfires, were excluded because they weren’t directly tied to atmospheric conditions. Events that didn’t cause property damage were also excluded, as were damages that took place outside of state boundaries. Researchers additionally estimated the amount of affected property covered by insurance, based on data from insurance firm Munich Re.