Wilma’s $6 Billion Cost to Insurers Raises Industry’s Catastrophe Loss Total to Record $50 Billion

November 29, 2005

U.S. property/casualty insurers are expected to pay an estimated $6.1 billion to Florida policyholders for insured property losses from Hurricane Wilma, pushing year-to-date catastrophe losses to $50.3 billion, an all-time record, according to preliminary analysis by the insurance industry.

The year’s three most devastating hurricanes, Katrina, Rita and Wilma, together account for $45.2 billion, or 90 percent, of the total catastrophe loss from 22 events, reports Property Claim Services (PCS), a unit of Insurance Services Office.

Wilma made landfall near Cape Romano, Florida, on October 24 as a Category 3 hurricane with peak wind gusts exceeding 120 miles an hour. Homes and businesses in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties took a heavy pounding with widespread power outages and extensive damage to property from windborne debris and fallen trees.

Insurers expect 750,000 claims from policyholders for damage to personal and commercial property, automobiles, and boats and yachts. PCS estimates claims from owners of boats and other recreational vessels will be around $125 million.

The hurricane season this year, which is the most active ever with 13 named hurricanes, officially ends Nov. 30. But 2005 catastrophe losses are likely to climb with additional claims expected for Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Additional winter storms through the end of the year could drive this year’s catastrophe losses even higher, according to PCS.

PCS will resurvey insurers in 60 days as more claims are filed and existing claims are closed. PCS resurveys are standard procedure for all catastrophes that exceed $250 million in insured losses or whenever specific circumstances require additional analysis.

ISO’s PCS unit defines a catastrophe as an event that causes $25 million or more in insured property losses and affects a significant number of policyholders and insurers.

PCS estimates represent anticipated insured loss on an industrywide basis arising from catastrophes, reflecting the total insurance payment for personal and commercial property lines of insurance covering fixed property, personal property, vehicles, boats, related property items, business interruption and additional living expenses. The estimates exclude loss adjustment expenses.

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