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Joplin Losses Still Not Settled 18 Months Later

With insurance companies still tabulating losses from the May 2011 Joplin, Mo., tornado, it's folly to expect any clarity on the full scope of even larger events like Hurricane Sandy for years.

A St. Louis TV station reports today that 18 months after the Joplin, Mo., tornado, insurance claims are still being processed and total loss estimates are rising.

This news comes on the heels of a Fitch report that cautioned against early loss estimates after Sandy:

Fitch notes that the complexity of assessing insurance losses from such a large and intense storm over a widespread region, particularly with respect to the impact of flooding and business interruption claims, has created uncertainty in estimating ultimate insured losses from Sandy. As such, many (re)insurance companies were unable to release credible loss estimates until almost two months after the storm hit on Oct. 29, with several larger insurers still having not reported at the time of report publication. This could potentially add another $5 billion or more in losses to the industry.

Insurers are noticing a changing risk profile of catastrophe-prone areas, due to development, weather and population shifts. There's even been chatter about climate change's potential effect. But these events show that it will be quite a while before that new risk profile is established — if it ever can be settled.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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