Less than a year after a series of tornadoes caused some of the worse insured losses in U.S. history, the insurance industry is likely facing substantial costs again after storms killed nearly 40 people on Friday.

Friday's system has already been compared with the "Super Outbreak" of April 1974, one of the largest and most violent ever in the United States, as well as with a devastating outbreak last April. In total, dozens of people died last week from violent storms.

It could be days before anyone hazards a guess about actual losses from the tornadoes. But catastrophe modeling company Eqecat said late Friday that this year's storm season is already running nearly 30 percent higher than the average of recent years.

"After a relatively benign February, the 2012 Severe Convective Storm season in the United States has brought damage and possible significant losses" already, Eqecat said in a report.

Until last year, tornadoes were not usually considered one of the larger risks for the insurance industry. It was rare, in fact, for a series of tornadoes to cause $1 billion in losses.

But 2011 broke the mold, with the outbreaks in April and May that shattered records. The Insurance Information Institute has said that, if it were taken as a whole, the spring 2011 tornado season would rank as the fourth-costliest disaster for insured losses in U.S. history. -- Reuters

Latest Videos