Despite uncertainties regarding final loss totals from Hurricane Sandy, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said it expects only a limited ratings impact on insurers and reinsurers exposed to such losses, according to a report from the firm’s Ratins Direct service.

Hurricane Sandy could upend some previous beliefs regarding catastrophe losses. First, S&P analysts said assumptions about automobile-related losses were more benign than the actual losses from Sandy’s flood-related damage. Also, basis risk for nontraditional reinsurance products such as industry loss warranties may have been underestimated.

“We expect losses to reduce the (re)insurance industry’s 2012 earnings, but not to impair industry capital,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Jason Porter. “We will continue to monitor loss information as it becomes available to determine if any companies deplete both annual earnings and at least 5% to 10% of capital, at which point we may reevaluate our ratings.”

The report is titled, “Hurricane Sandy Brings Unexpected Risks But Limited Credit Impact For (Re)Insurers.” Its conclusions track with earlier estimates by S&P of Sandy’s impact on ratings.