Insurers Face $2B in U.S. Weather Claims

Insurers face claims of almost $2 billion from fires, hail and thunderstorms that hit parts of the United States last month, broker Aon Benfield said, though the impact of natural catastrophes so far in 2012 remains well below last year.

Hailstorms in New Mexico and Texas will generate insured losses of more than $1 billion and a separate storm in Wyoming and Colorado will cost the industry more than $700 million, Aon said on Tuesday in a monthly round-up of catastrophe claims.

The broker said that wildfires in Colorado and a spate of intense thunderstorms that caused power blackouts in the central and eastern Unites States would generate further losses, but it did not provide estimates.

The hit to insurers worldwide from natural disasters has been mild so far this year compared with 2011, which was the second-worst year on record for catastrophe claims because of events such as Japan's Tohoku earthquake and Thailand's worst floods in half a century.

Insurers absorbed catastrophe-related claims of $11 billion in the first six months of 2012, down sharply from $76 billion in the same period last year, reinsurance broker Guy Carpenter said in a separate study on Monday.

The industry could face additional June losses from heavy rain and flooding in Florida, Aon said.

Outside the U.S., insurers could also be hit by claims resulting from flooding in China and Britain, and from a typhoon that struck Japan, the broker added.