"Ivan the Terrible": deaths and billions of dollars in damage

Hurricane Ivan may cost insurers less than first estimated after the third storm to hit the U.S. in six weeks skirted New Orleans. U.S. claims will probably total $2 billion to $7 billion, down from a previous prediction of as much as $10 billion, according to Risk Management Solutions Inc., which gauges losses with computer models. AIR Worldwide Corp., another storm modeler, predicted $3 billion to $6 billion. "New Orleans was the big fear factor," said Tom Larsen, a senior vice president at Eqecat Inc., an Oakland, California- based firm that yesterday predicted as much as $20 billion in claims. "It's still a lot of money but it's not as severe." Insurers are having their most costly year from U.S. &to= english.pravda.ru/accidents/21/97/' target=_blank> natural disasters since the blizzards of 1994, according to Insurance Services Office Inc. Hurricane Charley cost insurers about $6.8 billion as it swept Florida last month, while Hurricane Frances caused as much as $6 billion of damage when it hit the state three weeks later. Ivan hit land today between Pensacola, Florida, and Mobile, Alabama, with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (217 kilometers per hour). State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. is the largest home insurer in Alabama and Florida. Allstate Corp. is second in Florida and third in Alabama, according to A.M. Best Co., which didn't include Florida's state-chartered insurer in its ranking. St. Paul Travelers Cos. is Alabama's &to= english.pravda.ru/comp/2002/10/04/37728.html ' target=_blank> largest commercial insurer , informs Bloomberg.

According to USSATODAY, Hurricane Ivan, &to= english.pravda.ru/comp/2002/09/27/37366.html' target=_blank> now a tropical storm , blasted the Gulf Coast with 130-mph winds Thursday and unleashed most of its fury on the Florida Panhandle, killing at least 18 people, collapsing a bridge and sending six tornadoes barreling through several hospitals and hundreds of homes. But the Category 4 hurricane dubbed "Ivan the Terrible" did not live up to its name along much of the coast, where millions of residents had fled inland while emergency crews braced for widespread devastation. City leaders in Mobile, Ala. and Biloxi, Miss. said damage is nowhere near as extensive as some had expected. Up to 15 inches of rain is expected as the storm moves inland. By afternoon, its sustained wind speed was 70 mph.

And more danger could be on the horizon: Hurricane Jeanne is ripping through the Caribbean on a path that could take it into Florida early next week.

For Florida, it was the third storm in five weeks. Hurricane Charley struck the state Aug. 13 and Frances on Sept. 5; the two caused dozens of deaths and billions of dollars in damage.

Real estate development firm St. Joe Co. said Thursday that its key Florida properties suffered only minimal damage from Hurricane Ivan. The company said its properties in Walton, Bay and Gulf counties suffered &to= english.pravda.ru/society/2003/01/09/41818.html' target=_blank> landscaping damage and minor damage to structures. Additionally, the company said there was some beach erosion at some of its oceanfront properties but no flooding.

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