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Minnesota is the new Florida: Leads in catastrophic weather costs

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This week Minnesota made national news because of its severe winter cold, but the damaging storms of mid-summer take the blame for racking up record insurance costs.

MPR News reports that kind of extreme weather event pushed Minnesota ahead of the so-called hurricane states on a national list that tracks catastrophic insurance losses. Meteorologist Paul Huttner said that insurance experts are calling Minnesota the new Florida.

The story notes that Minnesota led the nation in catastrophic losses for the first three quarters of 2013, citing statistics compiled by the Insurance Federation of Minnesota. Federation president Bob Johnson anticipates Minnesota may end up falling from first to second on the list once the fourth quarter numbers are released, reflecting the costly damage in the November tornadoes that struck Illinois.

Intense August wind and hailstorms that blew through Minnesota, cutting power and knocking down trees, rang up some $700 million in claims in that disaster alone. Total catastrophic damages across the state in 2013 may reach $1 billion when all the final figures are in.

"The fact that landlocked Minnesota has piled up higher losses than many of the 'hurricane states' has stunned some in the insurance industry," Huttner writes.

Last fall, analysis showed Minnesotans pay among the highest premiums in the nation for homeowner insurance policies. The Star Tribune reported in October that Minnesota's recent ranking in the top three states for insured catastrophe put it alongside what the paper called the "disaster magnets such as Texas, Louisiana and California" and led to double-digit increases in premiums.

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