White Mountain hit by hurricanes

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita rained on White Mountain Insurance’s third-quarter report, but despite an estimated $186 million in expected claims, the company appears to be on the way to making money this year.

The winds and flooding resulted in a $66 million loss this quarter, compared to a $10 million loss in the same quarter last year — primarily because last year’s hurricanes didn’t cost as much damage.

Year to date, the company will actually make $257 million, $3 million more than the previous year.

“Hurricane Katrina is an industry-changing event,” said CEO Steve Fass. “The magnitude of the insured loss is a multiple of any previous natural disaster. However, even in the face of the losses we incurred due to the Gulf Coast hurricanes, we are profitable through nine months. White Mountains’ losses were contained to less than 5% of our total capital.”

The Bermuda-based company, whose U.S. headquarters are in Hanover, also released in its filing with the SEC, a report that showed that asbestos losses were growing.

An internal study by White Mountain subsidiary OneBeacon, shows that the company’s asbestos exposure increased $335 million to $2.1 billion. But that is still within the company’s $2.5 billion reinsurance plan, so the current losses won’t affect the company financially at this point. – NHBR STAFF

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