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

Just the hot list include
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 25,415.67 129.18 0.51%
Nasdaq 7,239.49 38.62 0.54%
S&P 500 2,737.35 15.17 0.56%
Treasuries 3.16 0.02 0.54%
Data as of 10:09am ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 8.64 0.04 0.41%
Baker Hughes A GE Co... 23.14 -0.66 -2.75%
Advanced Micro Devic... 19.97 0.36 1.84%
PG&E Corp 28.16 -4.56 -13.95%
Bank of America Corp... 28.04 0.27 0.99%
Data as of 9:54am ET
Sponsors

Sections

Bankrupt toy retailer tells bankruptcy court it is looking at possibly reviving the Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us brands. More

Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford charts her career path, from her first job to becoming the first openly gay CEO at a Fortune 500 company in an interview with CNN's Boss Files. More