I.I.I. Estimates $600M in Claims from Hurricane Lili

Estimates from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) say that U.S. insurers could pay $600 million in claims as a result of Hurricane Lili, which began its attack on the Gulf Coast last week, and has continued with heavy rains into other portions of the country.

The preliminary estimate is based on an I.I.I. survey of insurers and an average of initial estimates prepared by Boston-based AIR Worldwide. AIR, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO), uses a computer modeling program to estimate insured losses from catastrophes.

The I.I.I. pointed out that Hurricane Isidore, which made landfall in Louisiana as a tropical storm Sept. 26, caused an estimated $100 million in insured losses.

The I.I.I. noted that the majority of losses from Hurricane Lili, are expected to affect Louisiana communities in Lafayette, New Iberia, Abbeville and parts of Alexandria. In addition, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and parts of Texas were affected. A visual assessment by insurance companies found much of the damage to personal property was to roofs and automobiles. Approximately half the insured losses were to commercial properties, including hotels, oil refineries, farms, and retail stores.

Standard business and homeowners policies will cover wind damage from Hurricane Lili. However, such policies do not cover damage from flooding. Flood damage is covered under policies written by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Although the insured losses from Hurricane Lili are modest relative to recent natural disasters – Tropical Storm Allison caused $2.5 billion in insured losses last year, for example – the costs from this storm further adds to the overall toll of losses from catastrophes on the property/casualty industry. In 2001, insured losses from natural disasters totaled $7.5 billion. So far in 2002, disaster losses total nearly $4 billion.