As the East Coast begins picking up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy, insurance experts are making their best guesses as to what insured losses may total.
AIR Worldwide Corp., a catastrophe modeling firm, said late Tuesday that U.S. insured losses from Sandy could be between $7 billion and $15 billion, Business Insurance reported.
Another catastrophe risk modeling firm, EQECAT Inc., lowered its damage estimates to $5 billion in insured losses and $10 billion in economic damages. Before the storm hit on Monday, the Oakland, Calif.-based firm had estimated that insured losses would be between $5 billion to $10 billion and economic damages would range from $10 billion to $20 billion. Typically, about half of the total economic losses are covered by private insurance, EQECAT said.
Losses will include damage from Sandy's wind and storm surge to residential, commercial and industrial properties and their contents and to automobiles. It also includes costs associated with interruption of businesses, AIR said in a statement.
Des Moines-based EMC Insurance Cos. said in a release Wednesday that it has "limited coastal wind exposure" for its policyholders in the hurricane's landfall area, but that its reinsurance company does have exposure along the eastern seaboard that experienced tropical storm-force winds.
EMC said it anticipates its losses, though too early to estimate, will result mainly from nonstructural damage to buildings and trees blown into buildings and cars.
"Although this storm does not appear to have greatly impacted many EMC policyholders, this in no way minimizes our concern for the people on the East Coast who have been devastated by this event," said Bruce Kelley, EMC's president and CEO.
Sandy's tropical storm-force winds reached 950 miles in diameter, and hurricane-force winds extended 175 miles from the eye. That reach made Sandy the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, in terms of span of tropical storm-force winds, said Tim Doggett, AIR's principal scientist.