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RMS: Sandy Insured Losses Could Reach $25b

Catastrophe modeler Risk Management Solutions has confirmed its $20 billion to $25 billion estimate of insured losses due to Superstorm Sandy.

The estimate was conveyed by a RenaissanceRe executive during a Nov. 14 conference call on Sandy’s impact, hosted by Evercore Partners.

During the call, Kevin J. O’Donnell, who RenRe had just promoted to president to go along with his previous role as global chief underwriting officer, says RMS issued the guidance earlier on Nov. 14.

RMS had yet to publicly release any Sandy-related insured-loss estimates. Shortly after the storm—as competitors released estimates—RMS said it was too early because too many variables remained to provide a reliable range of expected insured losses from the mammoth storm, which struck the Northeast late on Oct. 29.

However, modelers AIR Worldwide and Eqecat released insured loss estimates for Sandy of up to $15 billion and $20 billion, respectively.

Recently several insurance executives and experts have expressed opinions about whether the estimates are too low.

If Sandy’s losses fall at the high end of the new insured-loss range from RMS, the storm would only trail 2005’s Hurricane Katrina ($46.6 billion) on a list of the costliest U.S hurricanes. Currently second is 1992’s Hurricane Andrew ($22.9 billion). That is, Sandy will be second if it is included on the list. Sandy wasn't technically a hurricane when it made landfall.

O’Donnell went on to say he did not believe Sandy was a “remote loss.” He expects to see another Sandy-like losses “in our lifetime.”

Prior to Sandy, rates were primarily driven by international losses and updates made to RMS’ hurricane model. Those drivers have “fully played out,” leaving Sandy as the source of conversation during Jan. 1 renewals.

O’Donnell says the losses from Sandy will be “well-controlled” by the insurance and reinsurance industries, but rates may be affected by uncertainties and emotion.

Confusion over wind versus water losses, as well as business interruption losses, will cause uncertainty. The fact that Sandy is the second significant storm to strike the Northeast in as many years (and hurricane deductibles didn’t apply for either) will guide the conversations over pricing, and terms and conditions.

 

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