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Insured losses from twister: $153 million

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, June 21, 2007, at 1:36 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008, at 5:15 p.m.

The May 4 Greensburg tornado is proving to be one of the state's most expensive disasters of the past decade, making the month of May among the most costly in recent memory.

Insured losses from Greensburg alone have totaled $153 million, which is more than statewide losses in 1997, 1998 and 2000, according to the Kansas Department of Insurance.

"It's pretty rare you have an entire town wiped out," said Commissioner Sandy Praeger. "That was pretty dramatic."

About 2,000 claims were filed from Greensburg.

An additional 16,000 claims with a total of $77 million in losses, including claims for property and crop damages from other storms, were filed statewide in May.

The estimates do not include insured losses from flooding, which are covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Losses for January's debilitating blizzards in western Kansas totaled nearly $10 million.

Other expensive disasters recently in Kansas don't come close to those in May, Praeger said.

Hail in April 2006 cost about $183 million in losses statewide, four tornadoes in May 2003 cost about $77 million, and a microburst in Lawrence in 2006 cost about $10 million.

Praeger said all the storms were devastating, but none had caused as much property damage as the Greensburg tornado.

Praeger said Kansans shouldn't see much, if any, difference in their insurance costs as a result of this expensive storm-filled season.

"Insurance is priced on cyclical basis, so if we go for a year or so without major losses, it shouldn't mean a lot. We shouldn't see a big increase," she said. "This is why people have insurance. That's what it's there for."

An increase would only happen, she said, if the area developed a pattern of destructive tornadoes, rain and hail.

"One bad month is not going to make that big of an impact," she said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given out nearly $1 million in individual assistance grants and $24.1 million in disaster loans, which may help pay for uninsured losses.

Reach Amanda O'Toole at 316-268-6357 or aotoole@wichitaeagle.com.

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