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Hurricane Irene adds to long list of 2011 weather disasters p. 2

We are continuing our discussion of natural disasters during 2011. The U.S. has had a particularly tough year. For insurance companies, these disasters and others in foreign countries could translate into enormous losses. And although Florida has escaped most of the havoc, homeowners here will likely be paying a portion of the insurance bill.

The weekend was full of news of Hurricane, then Tropical Storm Irene. The storm made landfall in the U.S. on Friday and proceeded up the Eastern Seaboard. The toll so far: 13 people dead in the Caribbean and U.S., 6 million American homes and businesses without electricity, and an estimated $2.6 billion in property damage.

The $2.6 billion is considerably lower than earlier guesses. At one point, one disaster analysis company predicted $14 billion in insured losses. Total losses, both insured and uninsured, may go as high as $7 billion. The government has yet to weigh in with a more official take.

Add Irene to the roster of weather events so far this year, and insurance insiders must be just shaking their heads. As we said in our last post, we have experienced nine disasters this year that each ran to $1 billion in damage. The total for the first eight months of 2011? More than $35 billion -- before Irene, and with much of the hurricane season yet to come.

A representative of the National Weather Service recently said that the U.S. "is increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather."

Floods, drought, tornadoes, blizzards -- we'll get into the details in our next post.

Sources:

USA Today, "In 2011, record-tying nine $1B weather disasters," Dan Vergano, Aug. 18, 2011

Bloomberg.com, "Irene's Estimated U.S. Insurer Cost Drops to $2.6 Billion; Hartford Climbs," Noah Buhayar, Aug. 29, 2011

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