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Just the Facts: Insurance Case Filings Spike After Natural Disasters

Just the Facts is a feature that highlights issues and trends in the Judiciary based on data collected by the Judiciary Data and Analysis Office (JDAO) of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Comments, questions, and suggestions can be sent to JDAO.

In the U.S. district courts, filings of civil cases involving insurance typically have surged following weather catastrophes. Over the past 20 years, devastating hurricanes and severe floods have resulted in the Eastern District of Louisiana processing the most insurance cases of any district court. Spikes in filings following weather-related disasters also have occurred in other states, including New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy, and Texas and Louisiana after Hurricane Harvey.


Civil cases addressing insurance are actions alleging breaches of insurance contracts.1 These cases involve disputes related to car insurance, life insurance, or less common types of insurance, such as flood insurance. Following weather catastrophes, U.S. district courts often help resolve disputes involving insurance claims. Map 1 displays insurance filings by judicial district between fiscal year (FY) 2000 and FY 2020. 

Facts and Figures

Note: Click on the tabs below to view the figures and map.

1 Here an insurance case is an action alleging a breach of an insurance contract, tort claim, or other cause related to an insurance contract, except for a maritime insurance contract.

2 In the Judiciary, the fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 – Sept. 30. All data sources in this document use this fiscal year calendar for reporting.

3 For more information on flood insurance, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood insurance website: Retrieved March 11, 2021. For information on the National Flood Insurance Program, see the following Congressional Research Service report: U.S. Congressional Research Service. Introduction to the National Flood Insurance Program (Jan. 5, 2021), by Diane P. Horn and Baird Webel. Retrieved March 11, 2021. For more details on federal disaster assistance, see U.S. Congressional Research Service. Federal Disaster Assistance: The National Flood Insurance Program and Other Federal Disaster Assistance Programs Available to Individuals and Households After a Flood (July 31, 2018), by Diane P. Horn. Retrieved March 11, 2021.

4 Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands in Sept. 2017, has not to date caused a spike in insurance case filings in the District of Puerto Rico.

5 Following Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, legislation addressing disaster relief was passed by state and federal governments. For more information on The Post Katrina Emergency Reform Act of 2006, the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act, and the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018, see the following report from the Congressional Research Service: U.S. Congressional Research Service. The Disaster Relief Fund: Overview and Issues (Nov. 13, 2020), by William L. Painter. Retrieved March 11, 2021.

6 The “Road Home” litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana resulted in a large increase in insurance cases in 2013, eight years after the Hurricane Katrina occurred.

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9 The spike in filings in the Middle District of Louisiana during FY 2018 was related to catastrophic flooding that occurred in the state during Aug. 2016. 

Related Topics: Statistics