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Joplin Leads Storms That May Cost $7 Billion in One Week

Joplin, Missouri tornado
Paul Wright, left, attempts to salvage items from a family member's home after it was destroyed when a massive tornado that passed through the town on May 24, 2011 in Joplin, Missouri. Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Insurers may face U.S. storm claims of as much as $7 billion from a single week last month, led by costs from the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, modeling firm AIR Worldwide said.

Insured losses to homes, businesses and cars in the week ended May 27 will probably be $4 billion to $7 billion, the Boston-based firm said in an e-mailed statement today. More than 500 people have been killed from tornadoes this year, including at least 130 in Joplin.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Allstate Corp., the largest U.S. home and auto insurers, are among companies coping with costs from natural disasters this quarter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 1,429 tornadoes had been reported in the U.S. through June 2, compared with 1,282 in all of 2010.

“More than 150 confirmed tornadoes raged across the heart of the country” from May 20 to May 27, said Tim Doggett, principal scientist at AIR Worldwide, in a statement. “Thousands of buildings were damaged, hundreds more were completely destroyed, and more than a thousand people were injured.”

State Farm paid $916 million in claims from storms this quarter, the policyholder-owned insurer said May 27. Catastrophes, including tornadoes in Alabama, cost Allstate $1.4 billion in April, the Northbrook, Illinois-based company said before the Joplin storms. U.S. storms in the week ended April 28 cost $3.7 billion to $5.5 billion, AIR said last month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in New York at Nbuhayar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

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