The size of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe has confounded the insurance industry and shaken its confidence, the chief executive of the nation's largest property-casualty organization told his group's annual meeting this week in Chicago.

The storm "has really quite surprised us," said Ernie Csiszar, president and CEO of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

He added that at a time of reasonably high market discipline, "to suffer this level of surprise and have a loss that I think for the first time we can't really quantify with a great deal of confidence, has probably unsettled our confidence levels a little."

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