Kansas sees record storm damage insurance claims

09/28/2011 12:00 AM

09/28/2011 5:17 PM

TOPEKA — A stormy spring and summer have helped pushed property and crop damage estimates past the $1 billion mark so far this year, the Kansas Department of Insurance reported Wednesday.

That easily eclipses the state record of $700 million in 1992. But in 1992, there were 365,500 claims. This year's $1 billion estimate stems from 197,000 claims.

About $18 million is attributed to crop damage. The rest is property damage. And more than half of it stems from wind and hail storms in east and south-central parts of the state last April. Flood losses aren't included.

"Rising costs of material, labor and claim adjustment expenses can't be forgotten as you look at the property damage estimates," Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said in a news release. "All of those factor into the losses. We may see increases in premiums by insurance companies as a result of the high number of claims and payouts."

Premium hikes often lag a year or two behind the damage claims. Insurance companies must file rate increases with the insurance department.

Last year, 94,400 claims totaled an estimated $370 million in losses.

In July, The Eagle reported that rate increases for residential property have been 8 percent or less. But the insurance department expected that to increase next year when 2011 losses are accounted for.

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