Market News

 January 08, 2014
Munich Re says 2013 disaster losses declined.

 Munich Re, the world's biggest reinsurer, said claims from natural catastrophes including floods and hailstorms fell 52 percent last year amid a quieter hurricane season.

Insured losses declined to about $31 billion, the Munich-based company said in a statement today. That compares with $65 billion reported for 2012. Total losses were about $125 billion last year, the reinsurer said, adding that both figures were below the average of the past decade.

While the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season was relatively mild, insurers faced claims from wind and hailstorms as well as flooding in Europe. German carriers paid about 7 billion euros ($9.5 billion) for weather damages, according to the GDV industry association, though claims payments weren't sufficient to let reinsurers charge higher prices.

Swiss Re Ltd. (SREN), the second-largest reinsurer worldwide, said on Dec. 18 that natural and man-made catastrophes in 2013 caused $130 billion in economic losses. Insured losses fell to $44 billion from $81 billion a year earlier, the Zurich-based reinsurer said.

Last year's June-through-November Atlantic storm season, which can result in insurer's and reinsurer's biggest losses, was one of the quietest in the last 20 years with the fewest hurricanes since 1982, reinsurance broker Willis Re said last month.

Costliest Catastrophe

The costliest natural catastrophe of 2013 in terms of economic losses was the flooding in southern and eastern Germany and the neighboring states in June, Munich Re said. Losses totaled $15.2 billion, while insurers paid $3 billion.

Reinsurers such as Munich Re and Swiss Re help providers of primary coverage such as American International Group Inc. (AIG) and Allianz SE shoulder the costliest claims.

The most serious natural catastrophe in the U.S. last year were tornadoes in Oklahoma in May with $1.8 billion of insured losses, Munich Re said.

Global prices for reinsurance policies renewed on Jan. 1 declined amid an oversupply of capital in the industry, according to Guy Carpenter, a unit of insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Cos. (MMC) Rates for property-catastrophe reinsurance decreased 11 percent, driven by decreases in the U.S., the New York-based broker said on Dec. 30. Prices also fell for most other types of coverage.