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Matthew Claims Start Rolling In To Citizens Property Insurance

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) - Citizens Property Insurance policyholders have filed more than 1,100 claims regarding Hurricane Matthew as of Monday and more claims are expected.

Of the Citizens' claims, 963 came from property owners in Volusia, Brevard, Flagler, St. Johns and Duval counties, the regions hardest hit by the storm that battered Florida's coastline late last week.

No estimates of damages caused by Matthew were immediately available, said Citizens spokesman Michael Peltier.

An industry analysis projects overall losses from the storm being "manageable."

Hurricane Hermine, which hit northern Florida in early September, resulted in 827 claims, totaling $284,000 in damages, filed by Citizens policyholders in the first three weeks after the storm.

Because the more powerful and deadly Matthew didn't make a direct hit on the Sunshine State last week, the overall impact on the insurance industry won't be as bad as it could have been.

Data analysis firm CoreLogic is projecting the storm, which hammered Georgia and South Carolina as well as Florida, will result in $4 billion to $6 billion in insured-property loss.

CoreLogic's projection --- that about 1.5 billion residential and commercial properties are expected to have been impacted by Matthew --- is based on insurance claims related to high winds and flooding, not on overall economic impacts.

Ninety percent of the anticipated Matthew claims are expected to be related to wind damage, and 10 percent from storm surge.

In comparison, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused between $35 billion and $40 billion in damages along the Gulf Coast, while Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Northeast in 2012, resulted in $15 billion to $20 billion in property damages.

The recent projections are a vast improvement over the pre-storm outlook, when the major hurricane that caused hundreds of deaths in Haiti had prospects of making a direct landfall on the Atlantic Coast.

Bloomberg News had projected that damages could reach $25 billion to $35 billion, while Moody's Analytics forecast losses near $70 billion, including economic impacts.

But by Friday, as Matthew churned off northeast Florida's coastline, the outlook was already improving.

Christopher A. Grimes, director of Chicago-based Fitch Ratings, projected the insurance losses from Matthew will be manageable.

"Hurricane Matthew will pressure the earnings of some insurance underwriters in Florida and other southeast states but is not expected to present a major capital challenge," Grimes said in a press release Friday.

On Monday, Moody's issued a statement saying the long-term impacts of the storm on Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, are expected to be "minimal."

The News Service of Florida's Jim Turner contributed to this report.


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