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Munich Re posts loss on North American hurricanes


(Reuters) — Insured losses from three big hurricanes in North America this year accounted for third-quarter losses of €2.7 billion ($3.13 billion) for Munich Reinsurance Co., leading to a quarterly net loss of €1.4 billion for the reinsurer.

The spate of September hurricanes also have cost the industry around $100 billion, the German reinsurance giant said Thursday.

Damages from storms Harvey, Irma and Maria of that magnitude would exceed by far industrywide losses of about $74 billion caused by Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005.

Munich Re confirmed on Thursday it would eke out only a "small profit" for the full year. That marks a sharp turnaround from expectations earlier this year for a net profit of between €2 billion to €2.4 billion ($2.4 billion to $2.8 billion).

Its estimate for industrywide losses from the three hurricanes is higher than Swiss Re Ltd.'s estimate of $95 billion in total market losses from the hurricanes and earthquakes in Mexico.

A series of hurricanes as well earthquakes have rocked the insurance industry after years of muted losses.

The disasters have only compounded extreme pressure from low prices caused by fierce competition and low interest rates that have eroded profit.

Munich Re finance chief Joerg Schneider said he expected reinsurance rates to rise, especially in areas hit by disasters.

As a sign of the strain of the disasters on profitability, Munich Re said that its property/casualty reinsurance group would report a combined ratio of 112% for the full year, compared with 97% in 2016.

The ratio is a closely watched measure of expenses to premium income, and figures over 100% point to losses.

The third-quarter loss, while large, does not come as a surprise. The reinsurer warned last month that it would record a €1.4 billion loss.