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W&W Group expects €400m gross flood loss, but reinsurance to reduce it


W&W Group, or Wüstenrot & Württembergische AG, a major German insurance carrier, has reported that it expects a €400 million gross loss from the flooding in July, but this will be minimised by its catastrophe reinsurance program.

Flooding in Germany, photo from Christoph Reichwein - AFP

Flooding in Germany, photo from Christoph Reichwein – AFP

It was the company’s Württembergische Versicherung unit that has experienced the largest impact, being the most property exposed within the region of Germany that was particularly badly impacted by July’s flooding disaster.

The company said, “We currently expect that claims for the year as a whole will be considerably higher than the figure for the previous year due to the flooding catastrophe in July. However, we had proactively obtained reinsurance to cover such a contingency.”

Market estimates suggest that the flooding will drive anywhere from €5.5 billion to €7.5 billion of insurance and reinsurance market losses across Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Switzerland and other parts of Europe impacted.

Germany is expected to take the bulk, at around €5 billion, which is where W&W Group’s exposure is concentrated.

The insurer further explained that, “The storms in July, particularly the flooding disaster in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-West-phalia, will also have a negative effect on the loss ratio in the third quarter,” again adding that reinsurance support is expected.

W&W Group had received over 7,500 claims from customers in the affected regions of Germany, which fell to its insurer as well as agencies.

“The overall picture currently shows a high degree of destruction in the retail and commercial portfolio, mainly property damage to buildings and their contents and furnishings as well as damage to motor vehicles. At this time, it is not yet possible to fully quantify the effects of the foregoing events, since we expect additional claims to be filed and damage appraisals are still ongoing. However, we anticipate that these events will have a material im- pact on the net assets, financial position and financial performance of the W&W Group,” the company said.

As a result, W&W Group is anticipating the €400 million gross loss costs from the floods, but noted that the costs were “limited by a mid-double-digit million euro reinsurance programme.”

Which suggests that the majority of the gross impact will be retained by this carrier, perhaps raising the prospects of it buying more catastrophe reinsurance at its next renewal.

We’ve been tracking some of the companies with larger reinsurance or retrocession recoveries from the flooding, with the latest being on Talanx, the parent of Hannover Re, which said it expects a gross loss of around EUR 600 million, but that thee net impact is likely to be a little more than EUR 300 million, suggesting a relatively significant reinsurance and retrocession recovery.

Belgian insurer Ageas reported an expectation of a reinsurance recovery that could be in the region of €350 million.

Last week we reported that Allianz expects around a €900 million gross flood loss, but to recover around €500 million of this from its excess-of-loss reinsurance.

Deutsche Rück said that its retrocession program will be triggered and protect its balance-sheet against some of the financial impacts of the recent severe flooding in Germany.

We also reported that, European insurer Generali also expects to recover from its reinsurance partners for the recent storm and flood losses in Europe.

In addition, insurer AXA said that it estimates that losses from July’s floods that hit Germany, Belgium, and other parts of Western and Central Europe, will be around EUR 400 million, which it reported before tax and net of expected reinsurance recoveries.

Hannover Re said it is anticipating a net loss of up to EUR 250 million from the recent severe flooding across Europe and in particular Germany.

While Swiss Re said it expects mid-triple digit millions of losses from the flooding and South African riots.

Finally, reinsurance giant Munich Re said it expects mid-three- digit million euro losses from the July flooding in Germany and across Central Europe.

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