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Insurer Munich Re: 'German floods costliest natural disaster ever'

German re-insurance company Munich Re has presented a first estimate of the damage caused by this year’s floods in Central Europe. For Germany, disaster costs may be the highest ever recorded in the country’s history.

Recent floods in Central Europe might have caused economic losses to the tune of 12 billion euros ($15.4 billion), surpassing the costs of the previous flooding in Europe from 2002, German re-insurance company Munich Re said Tuesday.

For Germany, a final cost estimate had yet to be made, Peter Höppe, head of Munich Re's Georisk Department, told German daily newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung.” But it was well possible that the floods were the most expensive natural disaster in German history, he said.

Munich Re, which is the world's biggest reinsurer, also said that out of the total 12-billion-euros losses across Europe, about 3 billion euros were covered by insurance companies.

The figure is slightly lower than the 3.5 billion euros in damage claims facing insurance companies according to a recent estimate by Swiss reinsurer Swiss Re.

In the past two months, emergency workers, soldiers and volunteers desperately sought to shore up flood defenses along the Danube and Elbe rivers as the high waters moved downstream. Germany was among those countries worst hit by the floods.

Last week, German insurance trade lobby group GDV estimated that the country's insurance companies could face damage claims of about 2 billion euros, slightly ahead of the 1.8-billion-euros cost seen in the Elbe floods about a decade ago.

Europe's biggest insurer, Allianz, said it had penciled in claims of 500 million euros from the floods in Europe, before passing on some of the costs to reinsurers.

Re-insurance companies such as Munich Re and Swiss Re help the insurance industry to cover the cost of major damage claims like hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

uhe/hc (AFP, Reuters)

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