Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Storm insurance losses estimated at $2 billion to $5 billion

By Charles Riley, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The severe storms that carved a path of destruction across large swaths of the American South this week caused an estimated $2 billion to $5 billion in insured losses, catastrophe modeling firm Eqecat said Friday.

Eqecat said the 2011 tornado season is just getting underway and is already setting damage records. The firm's estimate is based in part on initial reports of nearly 10,000 buildings destroyed.

The storms killed at least 316 people in six Southern states and left entire neighborhoods in ruins. On Friday, President Obama visited Tuscaloosa, Ala. neighborhoods that were flattened by tornados.

"I've got to say I've never seen devastation like this," he told reporters.

The storms leveled neighborhoods, rendered major roads impassable and left at least 800,000 customers without power Friday afternoon.

Even with that level of damage, Eqecat's cost estimate for the recent natural disasters in Japan was much higher.

Losses from the quake, tsunami and fires there totaled at least $100 billion, including $20 billion in damage to residences and $40 billion in damage to infrastructure such as roads, rail and port facilities, the firm estimated in March.

In the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, the most expensive earthquake in history, total losses were $100 billion, but insured losses only $3 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

By comparison, the 1994 quake in Northridge, Calif., northwest of Los Angeles, had the highest tally of insured losses ever -- $15.3 billion. In today's dollars, adjusted for inflation, that comes to $22.7 billion.

-- The CNN Wire contributed to this report. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,822.78 10.59 0.06%
Nasdaq 5,119.02 16.21 0.32%
S&P 500 2,090.02 0.88 0.04%
Treasuries 2.23 -0.01 -0.49%
Data as of 3:49pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Pfizer Inc 32.94 0.97 3.02%
HP Inc 12.68 -1.96 -13.35%
General Electric Co 30.39 -0.27 -0.88%
Bank of America Corp... 17.43 -0.04 -0.23%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 8.12 -0.18 -2.17%
Data as of 3:33pm ET


Brazilian police arrested a prominent senator and billionaire CEO for interfering in the investigation of Petrobras, which has pushed Brazil into recession. More

Watsi crowdfunds donations to cover healthcare costs of those in need. And it's seeing a surprising trend: micro-donations via the popular Chinese social networking app, WeChat. More

Some of the coolest toys this year are from small businesses. Here are 10 hot toys that just might be a smash hit this holiday season. More

American consumers saved more in October compared to a year ago -- a sign of a behavioral shift in consumer spending. More