Losses From Sandy Could Reach $50 Billion

Damage estimates from Sandy started pouring in on Tuesday, leaving many wondering what's covered by insurance and what isn't. Early estimates are pegging total losses from Sandy at between $30 and $50 billion. That would make it a very costly storm, but not close to the economic damage wrought by Katrina.

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Homeowners, businesses, and insurance companies are still assessing the damage from the storm in much of the eastern U.S. But some early estimates are in.

And as NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, Hurricane Sandy inflicted heavy economic damage.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: If you had to choose a day for a super storm like this, better on a Friday or over a weekend. Businesses will be closed and have time to clean up for the next week. Instead, Sandy did the bulk of its damage on Monday, and that means a lot of this week is ruined. Sandy also cut a path through some of the most densely populated and most expensive properties in the country.

GREGORY DACO: So you're talking in the range of, you know, 30 to $50 billion in total economic losses.

NOGUCHI: That's Gregory Daco, an economist at IHS Global Insight. About half of that is lost business, shipments and sales that never happened, restaurant and airline cancellations and the like. But, for example, damaged roads and bridges will also create activity in its wake.

DACO: Some of that will be repaired, reconstructed, so there will be, you know, offsets in terms of that and that may actually turn out to be a plus for the economy because you're actually rebuilding.

NOGUCHI: Daco estimates that, at most, the damage will likely slow down the economy by half a percentage point in the fourth quarter. It won't be lasting damage, but he says any damage to a slow economy like this one will hurt. Loretta Worters is vice president of the Insurance Information Institute. She says those likely to see the biggest financial damage are residents and businesses without flood insurance or what's known as business interruption insurance. Worters says sometimes it's not the property damage that kills businesses, it's that some don't carry insurance on sales that are lost while they repair.

LORETTA WORTERS: It's definitely gotten better and I think, for New York, 9/11 was a good - you know, people learned from that, unfortunately, but they learned from that.

NOGUCHI: She estimates it will take up to a month to assess the real price of the damage. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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