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Insurance shares drop

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares of US insurers fell yesterday after analysts estimated the Japanese earthquake could cost the industry nearly $35 billion, making it one of the most expensive disasters ever.

Shares of American International Group, the largest foreign property insurer in Japan, fell 1.5 percent to $36.79 in early trading. Shares of Bermuda reinsurers also fell, with Everest Re dropping 2.6 percent to $81.36.

Shares of reinsurers PartnerRe Ltd, ACE Ltd and XL Group Plc also dropped as much as one percent.

The broader S&P insurance index was down 1.1 percent, underperforming the wider market, which was down 0.5 percent.

Risk modeling agency AIR Worldwide on Sunday said the quake, which killed as many as 10,000 people when it struck northeastern Japan on Friday, could cause an insured loss of between $14.6 billion and $34.6 billion, even before losses from a related tsunami.

Adjusted for inflation, that would make it the second-costliest natural disaster since 1970, after Hurricane Katrina.

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Published March 15, 2011 at 10:32 am (Updated March 15, 2011 at 10:31 am)

Insurance shares drop

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