Record catastrophe losses associated with Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Dennis and Ophelia (the five storms that hit the Southeast in 2005) and predictions by leading meteorologists of more of the same for the next 15 to 20 years are putting pressure on the cost of auto insurance in some parts of the country, according to a report from the Insurance Information Institute.


Insurers received nearly 674,000 claims for vehicles that were damaged or destroyed by last year's storms. Those claims occurred across a wide swath of southern states and cost insurers some $3.2 billion, according to Robert Hartwig, senior vice president and chief economist of the I.I.I.


Unsurprisingly, I.I.I reported that Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi saw the most claims, but large numbers of claims also were filed in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. Even the landlocked states of Arkansas and Tennessee reported significant numbers of claims despite being located hundreds of miles from where the storms made landfall.

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