|By Tim Devaney, The Washington Times|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Hurricane Sandy's overall toll on the economy could be as high as
The National Flood Insurance Program, however, which is administered by the federal government, may be facing some large bills. While most hurricanes produce heavy winds and rain, Sandy brought with it the highest water levels in
"I would say the estimates I saw come out before the storm looked low to me," said
Insurers have yet to release their damage estimates, and it may take days or weeks to compile the information. But Risk Management and Eqecat, another firm that calculates the industry's disaster exposure, expect it to be worse than Irene, which cost insurers about
Those figures would have little impact on overall health of the industry, which could potentially withstand damage up to
"That's certainly something the insurance industry can absorb,"
Insurers prepared for the storm over the weekend, sending emergency crews to central locations that were expected to be hit the worst.
Agents are setting up mobile units where policyholders can come to file claims for the next few weeks. Insurers also will send adjusters out to affected homes to assess the damage.
"They will bring in thousands of adjusters from all over the country, from parts of the South and the Midwest that were not impacted," he said. "Thousands of adjusters who will be working very, very long hours and nights and weekends."
He said homeowners can prepare by surveying the damage, documenting it with "before" and "after" pictures, and making temporary repairs.
"If you've got damage, go ahead and make the temporary repairs to prevent any future damage," she said. "Save those receipts, because some of those costs will be reimbursed."
Where most homeowners will have problems is with flood insurance, which is not typically included in most homeowners' insurance policies.
"It's likely that you're going to have a lot of this uninsured storm surge,"
Hurricane Sandy delivered storm surges worse than most previous storms, with water surging nearly 14 feet above normal in
For Hurricane Irene, insured flood losses accounted for only about
As of June, the National Flood Insurance Program had about 5.5 million policyholders with
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