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RMS estimates insured Dean losses at up to $1.5B


NEWARK, Calif.--Insured losses from Hurricane Dean, which made landfall Tuesday in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, appear likely to range between $750 million and $1.5 billion, Risk Management Solutions Inc. estimated Tuesday.

The Newark, Calif.-based catastrophe modeler's projection included up to $300 million in insured damage to the Mexican coast, with the rest of the losses resulting from storm damage in Jamaica.

Hurricane Dean is the first category 5 storm--packing wind speeds of about 160 miles per hour--since 2005, noted RMS.

"Dean has taken an extraordinarily fortunate track, slipping between St Lucia and Martinique and striking a scarcely populated area of the Mexican coast," said Claire Souch, senior director of model management for RMS, in statement. "Given its intensity, the Caribbean and Windward Islands have fared relatively well. Though Jamaica has taken a large hit, the track for a category 5 storm could hardly have been better planned to minimize the damage."

On Monday afternoon, meanwhile, the Insurance Services Office Inc.'s AIR Worldwide Corp. unit estimated that insured losses in Jamaica would not exceed $1.5 billion. Dean downed trees and blew off roofs in Kingston, Jamaica, and airborne debris knocked out windows. Heavy rains caused coastal flooding and mudslides, noted the catastrophe modeler in statement.

"Still, it could have been a lot worse," said Glen Daraskevich, Boston-based AIR's vp of research and modeling, in Monday's statement.

The National Hurricane Center "forecasts the day before had Dean tracking directly over the length of the island," he said in his statement. "Had Kingston experienced Dean's strongest winds, losses would have been significantly higher, since about two-thirds of the insured value of Jamaica's properties is located in the parishes around Kingston."