Allstate expects high Andrew claims

September 05, 1992|By New York Times News Service

The Allstate Insurance Co. said yesterday that it expected to face $1.2 billion in damage claims from Hurricane Andrew, a surprisingly high figure that is more than four times what the company paid out for Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

An official insurance industry organization that specializes in estimating the costs of disasters has placed the total insured losses in Florida and Louisiana at about $8 billion, or nearly twice what Hurricane Hugo cost.

Allstate said that after its reinsurers paid about $200 million of the loss and its after-tax write-offs were considered, it would have to pay out about $700 million because of Hurricane Andrew.

The stock of Allstate's parent, Sears, Roebuck & Co., was down $1.125, to $41.375, yesterday.

Allstate's chairman and chief executive, Wayne Hedien, said he was uncertain why the losses of his company, relative to the rest of the industry's, were so much higher than its losses from Hurricane Hugo, but he suggested that the industrywide estimates of Hurricane Andrew's insured damage might prove low.

Those industry estimates of $7.2 billion in Florida and $500 million in Louisiana were released this week by the property claims service division of the American Insurance Services Group, a non-profit organization supported by insurance companies.

"My own opinion is that maybe some of these estimates are too low," Mr. Hedien said.

"I think the industry averages will go up," he said.

Mr. Hedien said his company's $1.2 billion estimate of claims was expected to be within 20 percent of the final figures. He also said that about $100 million of the total would come from claims in Louisiana.

The Allstate announcement raised questions among insurance analysts about the losses of State Farm, which has not yet announced its estimates. State Farm has said it has about 21 percent of the home and automobile insurance market in Florida. Allstate has said its market share statewide in Florida is 18 percent and somewhat lower than that in areas affected by the storm.

A spokesman for State Farm said he expected the company to announce its losses next week.

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