"It's not as bad as we had thought. Mostly it's been residential losses," Michael Tiagwad, boss at commercial insurance agency Conner Strong & Buckalew in Marlton, told me. "We were prepared for much wider-spread power outages. This area was fortunate, and people at the Shore took steps to protect their property." By contrast, for example, "Connecticut got creamed."
Insured losses from storm Irene could total $2.6 billion, Kinetic Analysis Corp. of suburban Washington told Bloomberg here, with another $4 billion plus in uninsured damages. Earlier estimates had been higher, but Irene's lower-than-expected winds limited property damage in East Coast cities.
"We are now upping our estimate of fourth-quarter GDP in the U.S. economy," writes David Kotok, boss at Vineland- and Sarasota-based Cumberland Advisors. "Billions will be spent on rebuilding and recovery," juiced by "a flow of federal financial assistance," which "will put some people back to work, at least temporarily."
Paul Newsome, insurance analyst at Sandler O'Neill + Partners in New York, this morning urged clients to buy Allstate, one of the biggest property-casualty insurers, on the theory that Irene and other recent storms have made it easier to get permission from states to raise insurance rates after years of flat or declining prices.
"Insurers are hyping Hurricane Irene for higher rates with even more vigor than the Weather Channel hyped it for higher ratings," complained J. Robert Hunter, Director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. Annual hurricane losses are "already priced in" to today's premiums, added Joanne Doroshow, head of the Center for Justice and Democracy, an allied consumer advocacy group.
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