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Munich Re Says Natural Disasters Tripled in Germany Since 1970

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- German insurers’ losses from natural catastrophes are rising as global climate change causes more inundations and storms, Munich Re said.

Weather-related events have more than tripled in the country over the past 40 years, Peter Hoeppe, who heads the Munich-based reinsurer’s Geo Risks Research Department, told journalists in Dusseldorf today. A rising trend is also measurable worldwide, he said.

Insurers’ claims costs related to natural disasters rose last year. Allianz SE, Europe’s biggest insurer, recorded “high losses from natural catastrophes and bad weather conditions” in the three months ended September 2010, it said in the quarterly report on its website. Flooding, windstorms and a hailstorm cost the firm about 137 million euros ($186 million) in Germany in the period, it said. Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer, also owns primary insurer Ergo Versicherungsgruppe.

“Climate change is a fact,” Hoeppe said, adding that 2010 was the hottest year worldwide since records started, according to data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. Higher temperatures are increasingly leading to extreme rainfall and storms.

European winter storm Xynthia, which swept across Portugal, Spain, France and Germany in February 2010, cost insurers about $3.4 billion, while the earthquake that hit Chile in the same month may have cost the industry $8 billion, according to estimates by Munich Re. That led to an increase in natural disaster claims last year by more than two-thirds to $37 billion, exceeding the annual average of $35 billion over the preceding 10 years, the reinsurer said last month.

To contact the reporters on this story: Oliver Suess in Munich at osuess@bloomberg.net; Holger Elfes in Dusseldorf at helfes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net; Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net.

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