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Losses from Oklahoma's May storms likely to top $1 billion

Insurance companies will pay out about $595 million to cover losses from tornadoes that swept through central Oklahoma last month. And that total is expected to grow.

BY DON MECOY Modified: June 3, 2010 at 6:21 am •  Published: June 3, 2010
Insurance companies likely will pay out more than $1 billion to cover damage from last month's back-to-back storms that spawned tornadoes and large hail, industry representatives said Wednesday.

The May 10 storms bearing hail and tornadoes that swept through central Oklahoma will cost insurance companies about $595 million, according to an estimate by ISO's Property Claim Services unit, which tracks catastrophic insured losses.

However, that estimate does not include damage from a major hailstorm that battered the metro area May 16.

Losses from the hail likely will exceed those of the May 10 storms, said Marc Young, Oklahoma assistant insurance commissioner.

If the hailstorm damage approaches that of the May 10 storms, the combined losses would top $1 billion.

Some insurance companies have been processing more than 700 hail-damaged vehicles per day, Young said. Other companies have assessed northwest Oklahoma City neighborhoods where more than 90 percent of the roofs needed to be replaced, he said.

"There was a very serious series of storms, and the insured losses continue to rise,” Young said. "We had an absolutely horrendous month of May.”

Jerry Johns, president of Southwestern Insurance Information Service, said insurance companies doing business in Oklahoma "will consider this a major catastrophe,” John said.

"It was an amazing amount of damage.”

Oklahoma's most damaging storm of recent years was the May 3, 1999, outbreak that killed 44 people, destroyed more than 300 homes and caused $1.41 billion in total damage — which includes more than just insured losses, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

It's not clear whether the damaging storms will produce higher premiums.

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The states are listed by their ranking and

estimated insured loss.

1. Texas, $2.458 billion

2. Colorado, $1.319 billion

3. Georgia, $822 million

4. Kentucky, $777 million

5. Oklahoma, $605 million

Catastrophes are declared when the insured loss reaches at least $25 million and affects a significant number of policyholders and insurers.

Source: ISO's Property Claims Services unit

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