Twenty days before Mother Nature devastated the Southeast a year ago, Lance Ewing showed up for his new job as vice president of risk management at Harrah's Entertainment Inc. in Memphis. Harrah's had acquired Ewing's former employer Caesars Entertainment, and Ewing was still in the process of surveying its properties. One month later, some of those properties were underwater.

Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma ultimately caused $1.5 billion in property insurance losses for Harrah's. A broad array of casinos, hotels, restaurants, movie theatres, children's arcades, parking garages, restaurants and retail shops in Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., and New Orleans and Lake Charles, La., were shuttered because of extensive physical damage or because the government ordered them to close. Two riverboat casinos and those operated on now-submerged barges were unsalvageable. Massive losses from business interruption resulted.

On December 1, 2005, roughly one month after Wilma breathed her last, Ewing had the delicate task of meeting with underwriters to renew Harrah's property insurance policy. He ultimately stitched together a property program from 40 separate insurers and reinsurers in the U.S. and London marketplaces. "I had to basically beg the insurance markets to pay our claim and, on the other hand, not hurt us too much on the premium increase," he says. "I changed a lot of lead markets because of the drain in available insurance capacity. Several carriers had gotten into the marketplace and once bit, had become twice shy." The overall premium increase, he says, was well above 75%.

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