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A catastrophe-laden 2011 and a tornado-filled start to 2012 could have a debilitating impact on smaller carriers, based on the simple premise that they often have a lot smaller of a financial cushion—less business from which to draw and pay claims, analysts say.

When disaster strikes, smaller carriers “can feel the pain more,” says Cliff Gallant, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

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