New York - Hurricane Katrina is expected to be one of the costliest U.S. storms for insurers in history, but risk forecasters are not in total agreement about the extent of the damage.Insured losses from Katrina may total as much as $25 billion, say analysts. This tops the $20.9 billion bill from 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which set a record as the costliest U.S. storm.

Boston-based Air Worldwide Corp. forecast insured losses from Katrina of $17 billion to $25 billion. Eqecat Inc. of Oakland, Calif., earlier estimated as much as $30 billion of insured losses

Claims estimates have vacillated since Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday. Although the bulk storm spared New Orleans, the aftermath, including a breach in New Orleans' levee system let water from Lake Pontchartrain flooded much of the city. This, coupled with enormous damage in much of Louisiana and Mississippi, has cost the lives of at least 80 people.

Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, last year's four Florida hurricanes, cost insurers $22.8 billion. Fitch Ratings said Katrina will likely be the costliest single event for insurers since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Source: Reuters

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