NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hurricane Irene caused between $200 million and $400 million in insured losses in the Carolinas, catastrophe modeling company EQECAT said on Sunday, suggesting the storm may have been far less severe than the insurance industry feared.
EQECAT said the bulk of the losses came from North Carolina, citing the effects of the storm surge and flooding in particular.
Combined with its estimate of $300 million to $600 million in insured losses from a direct hit on parts of the Caribbean, EQECAT now puts Irene's total damage so far in a range of $500 million to $1 billion.
That is far less than its competitor, AIR Worldwide, which estimated Irene's damages in the Caribbean alone at $1.1 billion.
It is not unusual for catastrophe modeling companies, whose software is used by insurers to model their exposure to natural disasters, to differ widely in their initial loss estimates.
The figures tend to be revised as the days go by and the companies send more teams to the disaster sites to survey losses first-hand.
Still, the early figures compare with some projections by meteorologists and statisticians that Irene could be a $10 billion or more event. Much will depend on how much damage the storm did in the greater New York area, where there were already signs of flooding on Sunday morning.
Loss estimates on the rest of the U.S. East Coast are expected on Monday.
(Reporting by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Eric Beech and Braden Reddall)