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

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,337.54 -42.87 -0.26%
Nasdaq 4,286.05 27.61 0.65%
S&P 500 1,892.99 6.23 0.33%
Treasuries 2.17 -0.03 -1.46%
Data as of 10:24am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 99.13 1.46 1.49%
Bank of America Corp... 16.23 0.02 0.12%
Facebook Inc 76.32 0.37 0.49%
International Busine... 168.65 -13.40 -7.36%
Cisco Systems Inc 22.82 -0.43 -1.85%
Data as of 10:10am ET

Sections

An elite group of forty Porsche enthusiasts were treated to a private tour of the Sistine Chapel on Saturday -- the first corporate charity event ever held there. More

Detroit has 80,000 dilapidated properties and 100,000 empty lots. It's trying to get more people like Antjuan Wyatt to buy them. More

Facebook wants the DEA to stop hijacking identities and creating fake accounts for its investigations. More

Host a furniture market. Here's how small town High Point, N.C. rakes in this much money -- twice a year. More

Detroit has 80,000 dilapidated properties and 100,000 empty lots. It's trying to get more people like Antjuan Wyatt to buy them. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.