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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene adds to a bad year for insurance industry

NO RUNNING FROM COVER

    The total damage inflicted by Hurricane Irene may reach $7 billion by the time the storm dissipates in the coming days, making one of theinsurance industry's worst years even tougher, according to an early estimate by the Kinetic Analysis Corporation in Silver Spring, Md. 
    Most of the loss will very likely come from property in New York and New Jersey, according to industry experts. Although Irene had diminished to a tropical storm by the time it reached New York early Sunday, those two states have the most valuable coastal property on the Atlantic Coast. At $7 billion in possible losses, Irene would be among the 10 costliest catastrophes in American history, according to theInsurance Information Institute. 
    The most expensive di
saster by far was Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which caused $45 billion worth of damage, not counting costs that were covered by the National Flood Insurance Program. The second, at about $23 billion, was the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, which the institute counts as a single event. All but one of the remaining top 10 were hurricanes, ranging in cost from $22 billion for Hurricane Andrew in 1992 to $6 billion for Hurricane Rita in 2005. Insured losses in the Carolinas from Hurricane Irene were estimated Sunday at $200 million to $400 million by Eqecat, a company in Oakland, Calif., that models the effects of natural disasters. The company said that parts of North Carolina and Virginia had received 20 inches of rain, more than had been forecast, and that more than a million people were without power after Irene, which was ranked a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore there. In the Caribbean, Irene caused an estimated $500 million to $1.1 billion worth of damage, most of it in the Bahamas, where it was a Category 2 hurricane, but also in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other territories, according to AIR Worldwide, a Boston company that analyzes the cost of storm damage. NYT NEWS SERVICE

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