The tornadoes, hail and strong winds that tore through the Mid-West last week have produced from $1 to $2 billion in insured losses, according to the latest report from EQECAT.

The majority of the more than 150 tornadoes in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Alabama last week took the lives of at least 37 people, 20 of whom were in Kentucky. However the death toll may continue to rise over the coming days.

Insurance Information Institute President Bob Hartwig told INN, “It’s likely we’ll see elevated thunderstorms in 2012 as we have the past four years in a row. The question is whether that elevation will include tornadic activity.”

Classified an EF4, the most devastating tornado destroyed more than 200 homes and businesses in Harrisburg, Illinois. 

Tornado activity in 2012 is already high with 272 tornadoes, according EQECAT. Preliminary tornado counts from the weekend outbreak ranks it as the most in terms of number of tornadoes in March to date from 1950 and tied highest with January 1999 as the most this early in the season.

“If we have two quiet weeks we’ll be back on a normal trajectory,“ Hartwig said. “What we saw in the past week doesn’t come close to the damage incurred in 2011 in Alabama and Joplin, Missouri.”

Last year, deadly twisters took the lives of at least 339 people as more than 160 tornados ripped a patch across seven states. The city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama was especially hard hit with the largest tornado classified an EF-5.

“The difference this year is that the damage largely occurred in rural areas with lower property values compared to the city areas and businesses that were hit a year ago,” Hartwig said.

“Insurers can spread their risk, have reissuance in place and some have already re-adjusted their reinsurance for 2012. Many already have or will be looking to adjust prices upward to reflect the increased risk," Hartwig said. "Home ownership and commercial property have increased their rates or are in the process of doing so."

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