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TheStreet Open House

Irene Threatens Havoc In New York

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Insurers could be facing trillions of dollars in losses as Hurricane Irene moves north towards New York.

According to data compiled by catastrophe risk modeling agency AIR Worldwide, New York has over $2.3 trillion of insured coastal property, and the category-3 storm -- now considered a "major" hurricane -- appears to be headed directly for it.

Tide levels in the Bahamas - where Irene was focused Wednesday morning -- were expected to reach as high as 11-feet above normal, the National Hurricane Center said.

Forecasters say the storm may now head in a more northwesterly direction, which would put it roughly in line with the North Carolina coast. However, federal and state authorities have advised residents in other places not to be complacent, warning the hurricane will likely affect nearly every state along the East Coast.

According to the AIR data, there is an additional $2 trillion in insured coastal property now also at risk across the Carolinas, Maryland , Virginia, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

Analysts at Sandler O'Neill say State Farm, with roughly 18% market share, is the most exposed insurer should Irene make landfall in the Carolinas as anticipated on Saturday. Nationwide Mutual has 10% market share across the three states while Allstate (ALL) and Travelers (TRV) Companies have 9% and 8% respectively.

After Saturday, Irene may pose a threat to Long Island and the New England coastline, according to forecasters at the weather underground (wunderground.com) site.

Denis Feltgen of the National Hurricane Center says it's still too early to pin down Irene's exact path. "As the storm turns it's possible it may remain offshore but its effects could still be felt with heavy rains, beach erosion, possible flooding and tree and power light damage. Those are all the potential impacts," he told TheStreet, Wednesday.

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