Indiana storm damage stings insurer

October 6, 2008

Damage in Indiana caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike is causing steep losses for an Ohio insurer with a big presence here.

State Auto Financial Corp., a property-and-casualty insurer based in Columbus, Ohio, said it has customers in Texas, where Ike made landfall Sept. 13, but suffered its worst losses in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

State Auto estimates it will report pretax catastrophe losses in the third quarter of $55 million to $60 million, far above its third-quarter average of $11.8 million over the last five years.

While the company knew it had hurricane exposure in Texas, "what no one could have anticipated was that an even greater number of our Midwest customers would be affected by that storm," State Auto CEO Bob Restrepo said in a statement.

State Auto ramped up its exposure to Indiana when it purchased Indianapolis-based Meridian Mutual Insurance for $228 million in 2000.

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