Claims from Seattle Quake Estimated at $330 Million

March 19, 2001

U.S. insurers are likely to pay out less than previously expected in claims caused by the earthquake that rattled Seattle on Feb. 28, according to preliminary estimates published March 16 by Insurance Services Office Inc.

Measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, the Seattle quake generated 13,550 claims totaling $330 million, according to Property Claim Services, a unit of independent insurance firm ISO.

That figure is less than some previous estimates, which put insured damage as high as $1 billion. The estimate of Seattle claims is only a fraction of the roughly $16 billion paid out by insurers for the 1994 Northridge earthquake which devastated California.

Allstate Corp. and SAFECO Corp., the two property insurers with the biggest market share in the region, have not yet said how much they expect to pay in claims from the temblor. Allstate told Reuters it has received 2,998 earthquake-related claims thus far, out of 45,000 customers in Washington state holding earthquake cover.

According to ISO, the loss for the Seattle quake was likely to be lower than previously thought, mainly because of high deductibles and the fact that few businesses and individuals held separate earthquake cover.

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