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$11 Billion in Hurricane Ike Insurance Claims Expected

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Hurricane Ike could be the third costliest hurricane in history, with insurance claims expected to reach $11 billion.

In Texas, where Ike did significant damage to Galveston and Houston, there is concern about whether or not the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, the insurer of last resort for 14 coastal counties, can weather the financial fallout for Ike.  The Houston Chronicle reports that the association’s $100 million base, along with part of a $500 million catastrophic reserve trust fund, were already used up paying for damage caused by Hurricane Dolly and Tropical Storm Edouard earlier in the summer. So it will have to tap its backup funding sources to cover claims from Ike. That ultimately could cost Texas taxpayers.

Other insurers, however, are expected to fare better. The rating service, A.M. Best Company, said that while the cost from Ike is expected to be high, insurance claims from Ike are expected to be “manageable given the current overall capital strength of the industry” and won’t be an industry-wide “solvency event.”  Another analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods told the Hartford Courant that while Ike is likely to wipe out third-quarter earnings for some property-casualty insurers that have a material amount of business in the affected area,  most companies will report a profit for the full year.

While it could be weeks before the true cost of Ike is known,  the Insurance Information Institute’s preliminary estimate said the storm could  result in more than $11 billion of claims.  In addition to being the third most expensive hurricane, it would also be the fifth most expensive insurance event in U.S. history, behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Northridge, Calif., earthquake in 1994, the institute said.

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