Florida sustained less building damage than other states hit by Hurricane Katrina because of a tougher construction code, a modeling firm study has found.

The findings were made by Risk Management Solutions (RMS) in a report on the storm and the issues that will determine the final outcome of the insurance industry’s losses from the storm.

RMS’ study, titled, “Hurricane Katrina: Profile of a Super Cat, Lessons and Implications for Catastrophe Risk Management,” reviews Katrina’s path of destruction and analyzes the losses resulting from the storm. It is online at www.rms.com.

The Newark, Calif.-based firm’s report said that a detailed claims analysis would show that buildings in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had a higher degree of vulnerability to wind damage than similarly built buildings in Florida.

RMS said the three states adopted the Standard Building Code, while Florida adopted a more stringent standard. The three states also allowed local jurisdictions to adopt and enforce their own standards, which further leant themselves to inferior buildings compared to Florida.

RMS put its loss estimate for oil and gas production at $2 billion to $5 billion, including $1 to $2 billion for direct platform damage. The estimate includes impact to pipeline infrastructure and expected production loss.

Losses from the New Orleans flooding are put at $15 billion to $25 billion, while losses in Florida are at $1 billion to $2 billion. The report noted insurers will see extensive losses through business interruption claims due to Katrina and Rita that followed.

Katrina, which began in the Caribbean near the Bahamas, first struck Florida before entering the Gulf of Mexico and strengthening to a top Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale with sustained winds of 175 mph at its height. It struck the Gulf Coast Aug. 29 as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 140 mph.

The total death toll from the storm, including Florida, is put at 1,204, which makes it the deadliest hurricane since 1928, the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane, which killed more than 1,800 people.

The 31-page report keeps RMS’ total loss estimate for Katrina at between $40 billion to $60 billion. It notes that while there were some problems with the modeling, this event would lead to improved models in the future.