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COVID loss of $44B is 3rd largest catastrophe cost to insurers


(Reuters) — Insured losses of $44 billion from COVID-19 so far represent the third largest cost to insurers of any catastrophe, behind Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 attacks, insurance broker Howden said Tuesday.

However, initial projections of $100 billion-plus for COVID-19 insured losses now look “improbable,” Howden said in a report on reinsurance renewals.

That prediction was made by industry specialists in the early days of the pandemic nearly two years ago, as events were canceled and businesses forced to shut down across the world.

Insurers have since excluded COVID-19 from many policies.

“There's only so much event cancellation coverage out there, there’s only so much civil action coverage out there, and when you get to $40 billion, that's pretty much exhausting what was underwritten,” said David Flandro, head of analytics at Howden.

Property/catastrophe reinsurance rates rose 9% year-over-year on Jan. 1, marking their biggest annual rise since 2009, Howden said in the report.

Reinsurers insure insurers, and reinsurance rate rises are typically passed on to insurers' customers.

Global property/catastrophe reinsurance rates rose by 10.8% on average this year, reinsurance broker Guy Carpenter said in a separate report this week.

Gallagher Re said earlier Tuesday that some European property reinsurance rates rose by more than 50% after the region sustained record insured losses last year from natural catastrophes such as floods and storms.