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In the wake of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, with insured-loss estimates reaching as high as $35 billion, analysts and rating agencies fell on either side of the debate about whether the event will cause a turn in the long-running soft-market cycle.

Boston-based catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide said its early range of estimates for insurance industry property loss is 1.2-2.8 trillion Japanese Yen, or $15-$35 billion (at current exchange rate). AIR said its estimates include property damage and direct business-interruption losses from the earthquake only, but not automobile losses, indirect business-interruption losses, or losses from the enormous tsunami and landslide that followed.

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