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Business

Earthquake in Japan deals a blow to reinsurance companies

The earthquake that hit Japan on Friday has dealt a blow to the world's biggest reinsurance companies Munich Re, Swiss Re and Hannover Rück. It is still unclear how big the costs will be.

cars swept away by tsunami following earthquake in Japan

Damages costs from the Japan quake are still uncertain

German reinsurance companies Munich Re and Hannover Rück said it was still too early to assess the damage, but both confirmed they had Japanese companies among their clients.

Market experts estimate that the Tokyo quake could cause damage costs of more than 100 billion US dollars.

Both companies' shares fell considerably in trading in Frankfurt.

One blow after another

The quake comes at a time when the reinsurers have barely recovered from the earthquake in New Zealand last month and the floods in Australia earlier this year.

reflection of Munich Re headquarters

Bright outlook? Munich Re is cautious about its 2011 profit

Posting a 2010 net profit 2.4 billion euros on Thursday, Munich Re remained cautious about its 2011 profit target. In view of the major loss-burden in the first two months of the year, the company said in a statement, the profit target could only be achieved if major losses remained below average in the further course of the year.

The floods in Australia and the quake in New Zealand have cost Munich Re around 1 billion euros.

On Wednesday, the world's third-biggest reinsurer Hannover Rück also said in a statement that it expected net income of 650 million euros in 2011, provided "the burden of major losses does not significantly exceed the anticipated level of roughly 530 million euros."

Hannover Rück has lost 114 million euros in the New Zealand quake.

Re-insurance companies insure the risks of insurance companies. They come into play when damages are extraordinarily high, as is the case with natural catastrophes.

Author: Andrea Rönsberg (dpa/boerse.ard.de)
Editor: John Blau

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