Claims News Service, Oct. 24, 3:30 p.m. EDT -- In a pressrelease today, catastrophe risk modeling company AIR WorldwideCorporation estimated U.S. insured losses from Hurricane Wilma at$6 billion to $9 billion. Wilma strengthened overnight and madelandfall at 6:30 a.m. this morning at Cape Romano, Florida, as aCategory 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph.

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As a Category 3 storm, Wilma is significantly less intense thanAugust's Hurricane Katrina, a strong Category 4 hurricane. Inaddition to Wilma's lower wind speeds and fast forward speed ofnear 23 mph, the decreased vulnerability of structures in Floridawill lead to insured losses well below those of Katrina.

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"Our detailed analysis of claims data from the 2004 seasonshowed that Florida's stronger [building] codes led to less damagethan would normally be expected had the storms hit a morevulnerable area of the coast, as reflected in our model."

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Meanwhile, risk modeling firm Eqecat said in a release that,based upon current information provided by the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration about Hurricane Wilma, preliminaryestimated insured losses in Florida could range from $2 billion to$6 billion, based upon wind speeds of 125 miles per hour atlandfall.

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Beyond wind damage to commercial and residential fixedstructures, such as office buildings, factories, warehouses, andhomes, Eqecat's insured loss estimates include businessinterruption, which covers loss of earnings as a result of thedestruction of property; and demand surge, which occurs when thedemand for products and services to repair damage significantlyexceeds the regional supply.

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Excluded from Eqecat's current estimates are insured lossesrelated to offshore platforms, commercial flooding, private andcommercial automobiles and similar vehicles, and marine assets,such as boats.

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