Friday, July 17, 2009

Allianz says insurers will be hit by more wind storms in Europe

Oliver Suess in Bloomberg: Insurers will be hit by a higher number of wind storm-related claims in Europe as a result of global warming, according to Allianz SE, Europe’s biggest insurer by market value. “Global warming is happening and it’s here to stay,” Olaf Novak, head of risk management related to natural disasters at the Munich-based insurer, said in an interview in Munich. “It’s not so much the severity of wind storms in Europe but their rising frequency that worries us.”

Allianz, which generates about 84 percent of its premium income in property and casualty insurance in Europe, sees wind storms in its “home turf region” as the most important risk related to natural disasters, Novak said.

Insurers’ weather-related costs are rising worldwide. Allianz estimates that between 2010 and 2019 average annual insured losses from weather-related disasters could grow to $41 billion, Novak said. Weather-related natural disasters cost insurers an average of $33.1 billion a year between 1999 and 2008, according to the New York-based Insurance Information Institute. The number of weather-related natural catastrophes in Europe has more than doubled since 1980, according to estimates by Munich Re.

Global warming may be linked to a clear increase in hail storms and torrential rain, Novak said. Still, “such disasters affect rather limited areas, so their impact on insurers isn’t as severe as that of wind storms.” Allianz hasn’t yet noticed a direct connection between its payments for insurance claims and global warming, he said….

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