NU Online News Service, May 24, 11:18 a.m. EDT
Catastrophe risk modeling firm EQECAT says insured losses for the Joplin, Mo. tornado—the deadliest twister in more than 60 years—could be between $1 billion and $3 billion.
Insurers have started the task of handling claims and setting up temporary operations in and around Joplin, a city of about 50,000 people. At least 115 people were killed on May 22 from the EF4 tornado, with winds of up to 200 mph.
More than one-quarter of the building stock—about 2,000 buildings—was destroyed, EQECAT reports based on preliminary damage estimates. Commercial buildings, schools and a hospital were wiped out. Another 5,000 to 10,000 buildings were damaged from the twister’s wind field.
EQECAT says the tornado could be upgraded to an EF5 after officials with the National Weather Service conduct damage surveys.
The Joplin tornado is the deadliest since 1947. The last tornado to take more than 199 lives happened in 1953, EQECAT says.
Gov. Jay Nixon says the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is extending disaster assistance to residents and business owners in Jasper and Newton counties, which bore the brunt of the May 22 tornadoes and storms. This means some people may be eligible for federal assistance to cover uninsured losses or expenses, such as temporary housing, home repair and replacement of household items.
Two days prior to the Joplin tornado Nixon said FEMA had extended disaster assistance in eight additional Missouri counties that have been hit by severe storms and flooding since April 19.
On April 22 the St. Louis metro area was struck by a tornado.
According to Highline Data, the top writers of personal lines in Missouri in 2010 were State Farm, with a 24.8 percent market share; American Family Insurance Group (16.2 percent); Zurich Insurance Group (6.7 percent); Shelter Insurance Group (5.8 percent); and Progressive Group and Liberty Mutual Insurance Group (5.1 percent).