Losses from five events will hit insurer’s Q1 results

Swiss-based insurance group Zurich expects combined claims of $500m from the five catastrophes that have struck since the beginning of the year.

The estimate is pre-tax and net of reinsurance, and is based on preliminary reviews. Zurich warned that the ultimate cost would take time to establish because of the extreme nature of the losses and difficulty in accessing affected areas.

The five events include the Brisbane floods, Victoria storms and cyclone Yasi in Australia in January and February, The New Zealand earthquake in February and March’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The losses will be recorded in Zurich’s first quarter 2011 results, which will be released on 5 May.

“We are deeply saddened by the impact of these natural disasters,” said Zurich chief executive Martin Senn in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the victims and we hope reconstruction efforts continue to proceed quickly as the recovery from such devastation will take a long time.”