Stormy weather is never good news for property-casualty insurers. But after two relatively mild years for hurricanes, policyholders were walloped by a pair of monster events, prompting carriers to pay more catastrophe losses for 2008 than in the prior two years combined.

Through three quarters, over $21 billion in property losses were estimated for insurers across the country, compared with a total of $15.5 billion in 2006 and 2007 together.

The year started off rough, with nine events causing $3.35 billion in insured losses, according to the Property Claims Services unit of the Insurance Services Office Inc. That was quite a bit higher than the $1.26 billion recorded in 2007 and the $1.48 billion the year before. Indeed, this year’s first-quarter cat loss was the biggest in the last decade.

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