The gale-force winds that lashed Britain are likely to cost insurance companies at least £500m, according to a forecast by a top market analyst.

David Hudson at HSBC said the storms were likely to hit insurance companies' profits in the short term.

“My latest estimate, based on 20 years' experience, is that the storms will cost up to £500m,” he said.

Hudson said he expected insurers' longer-term prospects to improve as the storm costs meant they would have to increase household premiums.

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said it was too early to put a definitive figure on the cost of the storm-related damage.

But he said initial estimates from ABI members indicated the cost of the damage was likely to be less than the £1.2bn price tag of 1987's hurricane and the £2.2bn cost of 1990's storms.

This compares to its newly-released £50m estimate for the cost of the damage that occurred from storms in Kent and Sussex two weeks ago.

He said: “Severe though Monday's storm-force weather was, the resultant damage was not as bad as in 1987 or 1990. We do not believe there has been as much damage to commercial and household properties as happened in 1987 or 1990.”

Norwich Union (NU), the largest insurer, said it had received thousands of calls from policyholders following Monday's storms but most of these were low-value claims.

An NU spokeswoman said: “We have received an excess number of calls reflecting widespread damage across the country.”

She added that most claims stemmed from the storm itself, such as dislodged roof tiles, rather than from the later floods and were of a relatively low value – less than £750.

Royal & Sunalliance spokesman Mike Wallwork said of the pattern of Monday's storm damage: “There have been some tremendous hot spots, but this is unlike 1990 when huge swathes of the country were affected”.

According to the Environment Agency, the areas worst affected by the flooding include: Waltham Abbey in Hertfordshire, Yalding in Kent, The Vale of Glamorgan and Bangor in Wales, Shiptow in North Yorkshire, Taunton in Somerset and Malmesbury in Wiltshire.

Some of these areas were flooded just two weeks ago.

The Environment Agency said more than 1,300 properties had been affected by flood damage.

PCS said it was dealing with a mix of 600 small commercial and domestic claims. Vic Noble, PCS UK operations director, said stronger building techniques prevented the storm damage exceeding that of 1987 or 1990.

McLarens Toplis spokesman, Alex Gargolinski, said it was able to battle the storm's effects better, precisely because it was highly localised.

However, he fears that if further heavy rainfall continues in the next 72 hours, rivers already swollen could burst their banks.

Keith Porter of loss adjusters Davies said: “Losses look like being the worst we have seen since 1990. We have at least one warehouse in Dover with a minimum of a six figure loss.”