Tuesday, July 01, 2008

United Fire Headquarters Floods, Lack Full Insurance

United Fire & Casualty Co., the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based property and casualty insurer, said it was flooded out of its headquarters and expects to incur costs because it's not fully covered by insurance.

United Fire moved 200 workers, including Chief Executive Randy Ramlo, to a temporary office on June 20 after the overflowing Cedar River triggered an evacuation, the company said in a statement today. Floodwaters as high as six feet destroyed computer equipment and everything else in the main office's first floor.

``Everything is brown and stinky and gooey,'' Ramlo said by telephone from the office in Norway, 17 miles southwest of Cedar Rapids. Financial losses from the flood won't be of ``material financial consequence'' to second-quarter earnings, he said.

Floods and severe weather in the Midwest, especially along the Mississippi River, have killed 24 people since late May, forced more than 38,000 from their homes and inundated at least 3.4 million acres in three states, an area larger than Connecticut. The worst flooding in 15 years was the result of storms in the Midwest.

United Fire did have some flood insurance, said Chief Financial Officer Dianne Lyons. Flooding forced her to forsake her own home in downtown Cedar Rapids for a recreational vehicle, she said.

``We consider ourselves good analyzers of risk,'' Lyons said, declining to provide the percentage of risk taken by the company or an estimate of the cost of the damage. The main office still has three to four inches of water, she said.

United Fire is open, serving policyholders and agents in more than 41 states, according to Ramlo.


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