A total of seven natural catastrophes in the third quarter of this year cost the nation’s property and casualty insurers an all-time high of $40.8 billion in insured property losses in 14 states, according to preliminary estimates by Property Claim Services. Even before the fourth-quarter figures are tallied, the losses make 2005 the costliest year ever for catastrophe damage.

The industry’s previous worst third quarter occurred just last year, with catastrophe losses of $23.7 billion. These figures compare with third-quarter losses of $3.7 billion in 2003.

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