New York - Bill Keogh, president of disaster estimator Eqecat, confirmed the
company's estimates of $5bn to $10bn in insured losses and $10bn to $20bn in
total losses from Hurricane Sandy, which came ashore in New Jersey late on Monday
and swept northward, knocking out power for more than eight million customers
and shutting down four major cities.
"We think that's about right. ...It will be among the
10 to 15 most damaging storms" that have hit the United States, he told
He said the assessments on real damages from wind and
flooding-related losses and the costs of business shutdowns will take some time
"At this stage we're really just getting out facts from
the ground... That will take a while."
Fitch Ratings said that aside from physical damage from
winds and flooding, it expects significant insurance claims from companies over
"While many lines of insurance will be affected,
including property and auto, there is the potential for significant business
interruption and contingent business interruption losses related to the
flooding as the affected areas work to restore power and resume operations
following the storm," Fitch said.
"The massive storm is impacting a wide variety of
businesses in densely populated areas, including retail, corporate offices,
transportation, manufacturing, and energy plants."
Economists at IHS Global Insight said they expect the
physical losses to top the $15bn of Hurricane Irene of last year.
"With Sandy being a much larger storm, it is likely to
end up causing more flooding damage than its 2011 peer which would increase
total damage estimates," said IHS economists Gregory Daco and Nigel Gault
in a report on the storm.
"The commercial shutdown of the East Coast is likely to
result in gross domestic product losses that may outweigh infrastructure
damages," they added.
While some losses to economic production will be recovered
in rebuilding spending, they said, not all can be regained.
Combining all of the disruptions from Sandy, they said,
"early estimates point toward total economic losses of around $30bn to
That was still small compared to the $120bn in economic
damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the US Gulf of Mexico
coastline in 2005, but still enough to reduce the economic growth rate in the
fourth quarter by 0.6% points, they said.