Swiss Re takes a battering from natural disasters

Swiss reinsurance company, Swiss Re, estimates its claim burden in the third quarter from three major hurricanes and two earthquakes in Mexico this year to be approximately $3.6 billion (3.05 billion euros).

Swiss Re takes a battering from natural disasters
Destruction caused by the Mexico City earthquake in September. Yuri Cortez/AFP

In a statement on Friday, it said the industry’s total insured market losses from the hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the earthquakes in Mexico came to around $95 billion.

It comes a day after Swiss insurer Zurich Insurance said it expects to receive around $700 million in insurance claims related to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in the third quarter.

READ ALSO: Swiss insurer expects $700 million bill following autumn hurricanes

The estimates are subject to a higher than usual degree of uncertainty and may need to be subsequently adjusted as the claims assessment process continues, the world's second largest reinsurer said.

“The most recent natural catastrophes have been extremely powerful and we extend our sympathies to all those affected by these events,” said Group Chief Executive Officer Christian Mumenthaler.

 “It is during these times that we demonstrate our differentiated value proposition and show the value of insurance and reinsurance to society.”

According to the statement, Swiss Re maintains a very strong capital position and high financial flexibility to support its clients' needs and respond to market developments.

The Swiss Re Group is a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer.

Dealing direct and working through brokers, its global client base consists of insurance companies, mid-to-large-sized corporations and public sector clients. 

Hurricane Harvey battered Texas and parts of Louisiana in late August, causing severe damage to property and bringing the country's fourth-largest city, Houston, to a standstill.

In September, Hurricane Irma struck the Florida Keys archipelago and Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico.


For members


EXPLAINED: Why you need ‘legal protection insurance’ in Switzerland

Swiss insurance companies offer a variety of services, but the one covering legal disputes is among the most popular ones. This is what you should know about it.

EXPLAINED: Why you need 'legal protection insurance' in Switzerland
Law and order: Legal insurance may make it easier. Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

The Swiss like to be prepared for all kinds of disasters — both real and imaginary.

This is where insurance comes in.

Whether it’s a policy that covers damages inflicted on cars by weasels, or insurance for theft of sleds and skis placed outside a mountain restaurant, people here don’t like to leave anything to chance.

One of the most popular optional coverages — as opposed the health insurance, which is compulsory — is legal protection insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherungen in German, protection juridique in French, and protezione giuridica in Italian).

What is it and what does it cover?

Simply put, it covers attorney and other associated fees if you undertake court action against someone, are sued, or simply need legal advice.

There are two different types of legal protection insurance — one specifically for traffic accidents and the other for all other matters. Sometimes they are combined.

Typically, this insurance covers costs of legal representation associated with contract disputes, employment, loans and debts, healthcare, housing, retail purchases, and travel.

Photo by Rodnae Productions from Pexels

Some carriers also insure cases related to marital law and inheritance.

Most will not cover attorney fees for criminal cases where you are the perpetrator, or financial disputes related to asset management, banking and investment.

Also excluded is legal action related to political or religious activism.

Can you choose your own lawyer or will you have one assigned to you by the insurance company?

Typically, an insurer has a roster of approved attorneys with whom it works. Some allow the client to choose from the list, while  others select one for you.

If your own lawyer is part of your insurer’s roster, you can request he or she represents you, but it is not guaranteed.

How much does this insurance cost?

Fees vary depending on what coverage you need (traffic accidents, general, or combined), whether they have deductibles, and how high they are.

You can compare the premiums by using this link.

Do you actually need this coverage?

As is the case with any optional insurance, you don’t need it until you do.

Generally speaking, and according to online consumer comparison site, “if you require legal consultation at least once every two years, getting personal legal insurance often makes financial sense. Just the legal consultation benefits which you get with some insurance policies can make up for the cost of premiums”.

READ MORE: How much does health insurance cost in Switzerland?