Shares of the Travelers Companies, a major employer in Minnesota, rose 5 percent Monday on news that damage from Hurricane Irene was not as bad as initially thought.
The consulting firm Kinetic Analysis estimates that insurers face payouts that range from $2 billion and $3 billion, lower than initial estimates. The insurance industry paid out $6 billion in damages after Hurricane Isabel hit the East Coast in 2003.
Ray Stone, vice president of catastrophe management for Travelers, declined to speculate on how much Irene would cost the insurer. It will take a while to deal with the damage, he said.
"The event is still unfolding. Flooding is still happening. Some rivers are still rising," Stone said. "It's an unfolding event as we speak. And how long is it going to take it's hard to say."
Travelers also won't say whether insurance premiums will go up as a result of Irene. However, Stone notes this has been an unprecedented year for catastrophes, specifically tornadoes. That could spell higher premiums.
Travelers employs 2,400 in Minnesota.