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Swiss Re: Japan quake costs 'over a billion'

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13:43 CET+01:00

Reinsurance giant Swiss Re estimated on Monday that Japan's earthquake and tsunami have cost it some $1.2 billion, but said this figure could be revised upwards.

"Based on preliminary estimates, Swiss Re expects its claims for the earthquake and the tsunami, net of the benefits of retrocession, to be approximately $1.2 billion before tax," the group said in a statement.


"Our claims estimate is subject to a higher than usual degree of uncertainty, and may need to be subsequently adjusted," it warned.

The determination of actual claims would require several months given the widespread destruction from the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, the Zurich-based reinsurer said.

An ensuing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant is, however, unlikely to lead to significant loss for the insurance industry as coverage for such facilities in Japan excludes earthquake shock, as well as fire following an earthquake and tsunami, Swiss Re said.

Neither would it be affected by residential properties claims arising from the earthquake and tsunami as these are reinsured locally.

Rather, claims for the reinsurer are expected to arise from commercial and industrial risks. It would also have to pay out residential claims coming from fire following the earthquake.

"We extend our sympathies to the Japanese nation as they cope with the human tragedy and the destruction caused by this event," said Stefan Lippe, Swiss Re chief executive.

The group added that it has donated towards relief efforts and pledged to help rebuilding efforts. It is also matching any contributions from employees.

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