The new number from risk modeling firm Eqecat is five times higher than its initial forecast, which I cited in a post on Tuesday about the potential losses from the superstorm. Insurance will cover as much as $20B of the economic losses, four times more than it envisioned before the storm hit land. Electric and utility losses were “significantly” higher than normal from “a more typical category 1 storm,” the company says. The damage to New York area subways and roadway tunnels also caught forecasters by surprise. Yesterday the firm said that Sandy struck the region of the country “with the highest population and GDP contribution.” But while the losses are high on an absolute basis, Equcat says they’re relatively low “as a portion of the underlying economy and asset base.”

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