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Winter storms could cost European insurers $50 billion


LONDON—Analysis conducted by catastrophe modeling company AIR Worldwide Corp. estimates that European insurers could face winter storm losses exceeding €40 billion ($50 billion).

"Many insurers were surprised by the $41 billion insured loss resulting from Hurricane Katrina, despite the fact that the AIR U.S. hurricane model already contained hundreds of scenarios with higher losses," said Yörn Tatge, Munich-based managing director of AIR Worldwide GmbH. "Similarly, European insurers need to ensure they are prepared for winter storm losses far beyond those experienced to date. Winter storms are by far the greatest threat for Europe in terms of insured losses. It's not a question of if, but rather of when."

According to AIR, winter storm Daria, which ripped across six countries in 1990, was one of the largest European windstorms in recent history. The modeling company estimated that if Daria were to recur today, it would cost insurers more than €10 billion.