AIR Worldwide cuts hurricane Maria insured loss estimates

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Catastrophe risk modelling firm AIR Worldwide has nearly halved its estimate for insurance and reinsurance industry losses from hurricane Maria, dropping the range from the initial $40 billion and $85 billion it had announced in September, to now estimate somewhere between $27 billion and $48 billion of industry losses.

Of the $27 billion to $48 billion industry wide loss estimate $25 billion to $43 billion is from Puerto Rico alone, the risk modeller said.

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In September, Air had estimated insured losses for hurricane Maria in the Caribbean at between $40 billion and $85 billion with Puerto Rico accounting for more than 85 percent of the loss.

The steep decline in the top-end of the estimate is following a review of hurricane Maria's intensity over Puerto Rico, the company explained.

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AIR Worldwide said that the significant drop in the upper end of its estimate was driven mainly by a review of the storm's intensity over the U.S. commonwealth. A re-examination of the storm parameters, augmented by newly available reports, revealed lower wind speeds than previously estimated, particularly in and around San Juan, as well as a narrower overall wind footprint. However, it is also the case that the industrial line accounts for much of the remaining uncertainty in the loss estimates, particularly as it relates to business interruption (BI) losses.

Claims will continue to develop over the course of the next six to eight months, largely as a result of continuing BI losses.

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The extent to which demand surge, the increase in the cost of labour and materials that often follows major catastrophes, comes into play, will impact on final ultimate insurance payouts.

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