NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - With Hurricane Ivan still a couple of days from the U.S. Gulf Coast, the first estimate of insured U.S. losses says this one has the potential to be the most expensive show of an already damaging storm season.
Risk Management Solutions, a catastrophe modeling firm that works for the insurance industry, puts the potential insured losses from Ivan at between $2 billion and $10 billion.
Hurricane Frances, which hit over Labor Day weekend, caused damages of between $3 billion to $6 billion, according to RMS estimates, while initial claims from Hurricane Charley, which hit Aug. 13, now stand at about $6.8 billion. If that estimate holds up, it would be the second most expensive storm in U.S. history. The most expensive was 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which had inflation adjusted insured losses of about $20 billion.
Right now, Ivan is stronger than either Hurricane Charley or Frances, although it is expected to weaken somewhat as it approaches shore. It is projected to come ashore from the Florida Panhandle to Louisiana sometime Thursday morning.
It is now considered a strong Category 4 storm, the second strongest rating based on wind speed at the storm's center. RMS is projecting it will weaken to somewhere between a low Category 3 to a low Category 4.
The upper end of the loss estimate assumes it comes ashore far to the west, in Louisiana or Alabama, hitting either New Orleans or Mobile, Ala. The lower end of the estimate assumes it comes ashore near the far less developed part of the coast at the western end of the Florida Panhandle.
Early forecasts for losses can change significantly before the storm makes land. Hurricane Frances had an early loss estimate of between $10 billion to $35 billion before it veered further north, missing a direct hit on the populated area of South Florida from Palm Beach to Miami.
Ivan had originally be projected to possibly hit the Florida Keys earlier this week, but it veered left, hitting Cuba instead.