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by : Alpha Insurance Analysts

According to the Insurance Services Office's (ISO) Property Claim Services Unit, US property and casualty insurers are expected to pay $25.2bn (£18.2bn) for 2008 property losses from 37 catastrophes, the fourth highest cost and the highest frequency in a decade. It estimates that insurers paid 3.9 million claims for damage in 40 states resulting from 2008's 37 catastrophes. More than 2.7 million personal lines claims accounted for 64% of the $25.2bn loss, while 340,000 commercial lines claims accounted for 27% of the total loss, and 876,000 vehicle losses accounted for 9%.

The 37 catastrophes in 2008 were the result of hurricanes, severe weather, winter storms, and tropical storms. Hurricanes caused the largest loss, currently estimated at $13.3bn in insured damage. Severe weather events, those producing damaging winds, large hail, tornadoes, and flooding, caused an estimated $10.5bn in losses. Winter storms resulted in more than $1bn in losses, and two tropical storms cost insurers $300m of the total $25.2bn loss.

The largest losses were in:

Texas – $10.2bn
Louisiana – $2.2bn
Minnesota – $1.6bn
Ohio – $1.3bn
Georgia – $1bn

"There are several extraordinary characteristics of the 2008 catastrophes," said Gary Kerney, assistant vice president, PCS. "Foremost are the six consecutive tropical systems that made landfall on U.S. coastlines. Dolly, Eduoard, Fay, Hanna, Gustav, and Ike struck along the coastline stretching from southern Texas to Virginia. Unusually frequent tornado touchdowns and related insured property damage contributed to record-setting frequency and significant losses in the first six months of 2008. All of this activity was followed by a very quiet fourth quarter in which PCS declared only one catastrophe — a winter storm in mid-December."