Hurricane Irene may not have been as damaging as first feared, with a total tab that could reach $2.8 billion,catastrophe analysis firm Eqecat reported.
While Irene was the most damaging hurricane in 2011,her insured losses now range between $1.5 billion and $2.8 billion now that damage has been assessed.
That ranks Irene quite typically with a hurricane of her size, Eqecat estimates, but well below more powerful hurricanes like the 1938 Nor'easter that hit New York and created losses as high as $38 billion, Hazel's $35 billion in 1954 and Gloria's $11 billion in 1983.
Oakland, Calif.-based Eqecat uses proprietary data that taps into publicly available reports from U.S. Government sources including the National Hurricane Center. Reports are mainly furnished to the insurance industry.
Meanwhile, Verizon Communications, the No. 1 U.S. carrier, now estimates its own damage around $250 million from Irene, said CFO Francis Shammo. The estimate, which could be as low as $200 million, also includes costs from Tropical Storm Lee.
New York-based Verizon has to finish repairs to its wireline business as well as FiOS TV services, Shammo told an investment conference. You're going to see less adds in FiOS, he warned, also as a legacy of the two-week strike by 45,000 unionized workers in August.
Verizon and the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have resumed negotiations over the past two weeks.
The strike didn't hurt Verizon shares much. Trading Thursday at $35.92, they have gained 2.45 percent in the past month.
Eqecat's post-Irene analysis had some sobering findings. Most damage came from flooding and is not insured. Total flood losses therefore will fall below $1 billion.
One reason is that Northeast residents generally have fewer flood insurance policies than those in the South. New Jersey losses will be higher than the 1999 Hurricane Floyd floods that cost $500 million, Eqecat said.
On Sept. 4, President Obama toured New Jersey floods, which were made worse by a drenching from Tropical Storm Lee
Irene's winds, which were above 100 miles per hour in some gusts around landfall in Cape Lockout, N.C., mainly were far lower, the modeler said. The highest gusts in the Delmarva region, New Jersey, Long Island and the Connecticut coast were not much higher than 70 mph.
The winds produced by Irene are consistent with observations of mostly little or no damage to properties, Eqecat said.