Thursday, May 5, 2011

Natural catastrophes lead to losses at reinsurer

My former employer, Swiss Re, reports a loss partly related to extreme weather: Swiss Re reports a net loss of USD 665 million for the first quarter of 2011, compared to a profit of USD 158 million in the same period of 2010. Property & Casualty was impacted by a very high level of natural catastrophe claims, including the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand and the floods in Australia.

…Property & Casualty reported an operating loss of USD 1.2 billion, compared to an operating income of USD 259 million in the first quarter of 2010. This result was largely driven by natural catastrophe pre-tax losses of USD 2.3 billion. The combined ratio for Property & Casualty rose to 163.7% in the first quarter of 2011, compared to 109.4% in the prior-year period. The net impact from natural catastrophes on the combined ratio was 89.4 percentage points, which was 79.8 percentage points above the expected level.

…Historically, large losses from natural disasters have been followed by price increases and stronger demand in the Property & Casualty market. Swiss Re believes the combination of the recent natural catastrophes, very low interest rates, and years of price declines are likely to bring forward the turn in the cycle….

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