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Oklahoma Tornado Cost Insurers as Much as $3.5 Billion

A tornado that leveled an Oklahoma City suburb last week probably cost insurers $2 billion to $3.5 billion in claims, according to catastrophe modeler Risk Management Solutions Inc.

The estimate includes damage to personal, commercial and industrial property as well as potential claims for business interruption, Matthew Nielsen, director of model product management at RMS, said today in a phone interview. Costs from automobile policies were excluded.

The storm that swept through Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20 packed winds of more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) an hour and killed at least 24 people. Insurers including Allstate Corp. and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. have dispatched staff to the area to help customers file claims. The storm may have caused more damage than the $2.8 billion in losses from the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, Nielsen said.

“This certainly has a chance of topping that, given the loss range that we’ve provided,” he said. “It’s definitely up there and could even potentially be the largest single tornado loss that we’ve seen.”

Tornadoes that struck in the U.S. from May 18 to May 20 will probably cost insurers $2 billion to $5 billion, led by the Oklahoma storm, modeling firm Eqecat said last week.

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