The United States set a record in 2011 in its declarations of federal disasters, and insurers are still playing catch-up with claims payouts. In fact, when all is said and done, insurers will have paid more than $32 billion in claims to help people rebuild homes and businesses damaged or destroyed by natural disasters in 2011, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

"Catastrophes striking the United States in the first nine months of 2011 caused $32.6 billion in direct insured losses, nearly double the $18.6 billion in catastrophe-caused direct insured losses insurers generally incur over the first nine months of any given year," said Dr. Robert Hartwig, CPCU, the president of the I.I.I. and an economist, citing figures released earlier this month by ISO's Property Claim Services. "The $32.6 billion figure doesn't even include the significant insured losses which arose after the pre-Halloween snowstorm, which caused enormous damage to multiple states along the Atlantic seaboard. Coupled with other events in 2011's fourth quarter, direct insured losses could exceed $35 billion this year."

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