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AIR Worldwide sees Sandy insured losses up to $22 billion

(Reuters) - Disaster modeling company AIR Worldwide raised its estimate of insured losses from superstorm Sandy substantially to between $16 billion and $22 billion.

The firm's initial estimate, the day after the storm hit, had been for $7 billion to $15 billion in losses. AIR said on Monday that higher storm surge damage accounted for most of the change.

AIR peer Eqecat has forecast insured losses of up to $20 billion, while peer RMS says losses could hit $25 billion. In all three cases, Sandy would be the second-costliest catastrophe in U.S. history, behind only Hurricane Katrina.

AIR's estimate also excludes losses incurred by the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program, which will likely seek a bailout amid expected losses of up to $12 billion.

(Reporting by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Andrew Hay)

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