Insurance Claims May Reach $26 Billion

NEW YORK (AP) - The property and casualty insurance industry, hit hard last year when four separate hurricanes slammed into Florida, now faces as much as $26 billion dollars in claims from Hurricane Katrina's foray into Louisiana and neighboring Gulf Coast states.

AIR Worldwide Corporation, a risk modeling firm based in Boston, said that insured losses could range from 12 billion to 26 billion dollars. At the high end, that would make Katrina more expensive than the previous record-setting storm, Hurricane Andrew. It caused some 21 billion dollars in insured losses in 1992 to property in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.

Another risk modeling firm, Eqecat, which is based in California, initially estimated damages from Katrina at up to 30  billion dollars, but it lowered its projections twice after the storm struck east of populous New Orleans. Eqecat's estimate for damage to homes, businesses, autos and trucks ranged from nine billion to 16 billion dollars.