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The insurance industry likely will weather the financial ramifications of Superstorm Sandy in the long term but will face short-term challenges, analysts conclude.
In a research note released Thursday, New York-based Moody's Investor Service said that while Sandy dashed the property/casualty industry's hopes for a quiet end to the year and will negatively affect earnings in the coming financial quarters, the industry has sufficient capital strength to absorb the losses.
“The P&C industry as a whole is currently at a level of relative capital strength, with good risk-adjusted capitalization, moderate financial leverage, and earnings that have benefited from price increases and relatively low weather-related losses through the first three quarters of the year,” the statement said. “In addition, the event will likely help support price increases going into 2013.”
Likewise, New York-based Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said in a statement that it expects Sandy to have a limited impact on the long-term ratings of U.S. property/casualty insurers but said the losses from Sandy were indeed material.
“It is widely expected that Hurricane Sandy will inflict more severe losses than Hurricane Irene, which struck the U.S. East Coast in August 2011, and cost the industry $4 billion to $5 billion,” S&P said in a statement. “Because the initial loss estimates are higher, we expect primary and reinsurance players to share the insured losses from Sandy; by contrast, the primary market bore the brunt of the Hurricane Irene loss event.
The basement levels of the World Trade Center are flooded with between 15 feet and 30 feet of water, government officials and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey sources say, the result of the surging sea levels during Superstorm Sandy.