U.S. Insurers: Mexico Quake Impact Small

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By Michael Ha

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NU Online News Service, Jan. 23, 12:15 p.m.EST?Tuesday's killer earthquake that rippled throughwestern and central Mexico, leveling scores of homes and commercialbuildings, is not likely to have much impact on U.S. insurancecompanies, an industry information group reported.

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According to the Insurance Information Institute in New York,only a couple of U.S. carriers have a sizeable market share inMexico, in terms of premium income.

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Among the U.S. insurers active in Mexico is Kemper, which saidtoday that so far it has not sustained any claims.

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Another big U.S. insurer with Mexican interests is NewYork-based American International Group. AIG Mexico has theninth-biggest market share in the Mexican p-c insurance market,with about 2 percent of the market share. In 2000, it recorded some$93 million in written premiums in this market, I.I.I. said.

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AIG did not immediately respond to an inquiry concerning quakedamage.

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Long Grove, Ill.-based Kemper Insurance Companies' Kemper deMexico has a market share that is ranked eighteenth overall, withslightly less than one percent of the overall market share,according to I.I.I. data.

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Jeff Moder, a spokesperson for Kemper, said today that hiscompany has exposures in the areas affected by Tuesday'searthquake. "But as of yesterday, we did not have any lossesreported. But that's not to say it won't change," Mr. Modersaid.

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Mr. Moder noted that Kemper's 2000 gross written premiums in theMexico p-c insurance market was $53.4 million.

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The earthquake has so far killed more than 20 people, injured190, and collapsed dozens of houses in the region, according toinformation gathered by AIR Worldwide, a unit of Insurance ServicesOffice in Jersey City, N.J.

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The national seismological service in Mexico has put theearthquake's magnitude at 7.6 on the Richter scale, but the U.S.Geological Survey came up with a slightly higher number, at 7.8.AIR Worldwide is currently using its earthquake-loss estimationmodel to get an estimate for insured losses in the earthquake.

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