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PRAGUE, Okla. -- Insurers trying to catch their breath from Hurricane Georges claims are facing additional storm-related losses far from the coast.
Several tornadoes ripped through central Oklahoma earlier this month, injuring at least 12 people and destroying homes and businesses in several cities. Insured damage in Oklahoma is expected to reach as much as $20 million, according to the Southwestern Insurance Information Service in Austin, Texas.
Meanwhile, heavy rain storms killed at least seven in the Kansas City area in Missouri and swamped homes and businesses. Rains also hit neighboring Kansas City, Kan., but the bulk of the damage was on the Missouri side. Much of the insurance to cover flooding of homes is written by the National Flood Insurance Program.
The tornadoes and high winds in Oklahoma destroyed 20 homes and six businesses and damaged more than 250 others, according to the state's Office of Emergency Management.
A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Insurance Department said commercial losses for the most part were limited to damage to roofs, signs and windows. A high school gymnasium in Pawnee, Okla., suffered extensive damage when a twister blew its roof off. "It's now an outdoor amphitheater," the spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said Farmers Insurance Group, State Farm Group and Allstate Corp. will pay the bulk of personal lines claims in the state, as those insurers cover more than half of Oklahoma's homeowners and automobile policyholders.
While tornadoes lashed Oklahoma, heavy rains caused creeks to spill over their banks in Missouri and Kansas. Public facilities were hard hit in Kansas City. The city's American Royal Building, which hosts rodeos and livestock shows, was left with water damage and an accumulation of mud. Repairs are expected to cost about $3.5 million, according to the city manager's office.
Kansas City's property insurance covers flooding, according to Mark Haskin, risk manager for the city. Chubb Corp. and Reliance National Insurance Co. write the first $10 million of the coverage on a quota share arrangement, and Hartford writes a $40 million excess layer. The coverage carries a $500,000 deductible.
A spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the National Flood Insurance Program, said 1,435 NFIP policies are in force in Clay County, Mo., which includes Kansas City. Those policies represent $231 million in coverage. In Wyandotte County, where Kansas City, Kan., is located, 351 policies are in force, representing $61.6 million in coverage.
The spokesman did not have an estimate of how much in claims the NFIP would pay.
As cleanup continues in Oklahoma and Kansas City, insurers continue to pay claims from Hurricane Georges. The storm caused widespread damage in the Caribbean and United States.
The Insurance Service Office Inc.'s Property Claim Services unit reported that the hurricane caused an estimated $2.5 billion in insured property damage, more than half of which was sustained in Puerto Rico.
However, that estimate does not include damages from non-U.S. territories in the Caribbean, such as the Dominican Republic, which sustained widespread damage.
According to PCS, Puerto Rico suffered $1.7 billion in insured property damage. Florida sustained $325 million in insured property damage; Mississippi sustained $310 million, and Alabama suffered $100 million. The U.S. Virgin Islands sustained an estimated $50 million and Louisiana about $15 million in insured property damage.
PCS estimates that the hurricane will generate approximately 685,000 claims.
Hurricane Georges was the costliest hurricane this year and the first catastrophe to cause more than $1 billion in insured property damage since Hurricane Fran ripped through portions of the Southeast, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states in 1996, causing an estimated $1.6 billion in insured property damage (BI, Sept. 16, 1996).
Mark A. Hofmann contributed to this report.