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Insurers to pay 71 billion for first-quarter claims

During the first three months of 2000, seven catastrophic events, including tornadoes that ripped through Texas, cost property and casualty insurers an estimated $1.71 billion, according to the Insurance Services Office Inc.'s (ISO) Property Claim Services unit. The catastrophes in the first quarter of the year affected 25 states, spanning most of the eastern half of the country.

It was not as bad a first quarter as in 1999, which included $1.85 billion in catastrophe losses from five events. The ISO names the first three months of 1994 — which brought losses of $14.5 billion — as the worst for catastrophe losses, attributing the high dollar amount primarily to the Northridge earthquake in Southern California. By contrast, the lowest ever first-quarter for insured property loss was $305 million in 1990.

The ISO defines a catastrophe as an event that causes $25 million or more in insured property losses and affects a significant number of property and casualty policyholders and insurers.

For the first quarter of 2000, Texas topped the list with $990 million in insured property damage. Much of the damage was done when tornadoes hit Fort Worth and neighboring communities in late March.

The states that follow Texas in magnitude of Q1 2000 catastrophe loss are:

• Louisiana, $188 million

• Kentucky, $80 million

• Georgia, $60 million

• Massachusetts and North Carolina, each $40 million

Texas and Louisiana each were affected by four catastrophes during the first quarter of 2000.

For the three-month period, insurers received nearly 560,000 claims for personal and commercial property and automobile losses. When all the claims are added and the insured-property loss is calculated, the quarter ranks as the fifth-worst among all first quarters since 1990.

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