German insurance claims for flood damage may be nearly $8 bln-AIR

FRANKFURT, June 20 Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:56am EDT

FRANKFURT, June 20 (Reuters) - Insurance claims for flood damage in Germany may be as much as 6 billion euros ($8 billion), catastrophe modelling firm AIR Worldwide said on Thursday, after the worst flooding in a decade.

Heavy rainfall in late May and early June drenched Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic in particular, causing widespread flooding, and also affected Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes.

"Floodwaters hit Germany hardest," Yorn Tatge, managing director of Air Worldwide in Germany, said in a statement.

"While the worst damage has already occurred, this flood event is ongoing," AIR Worldwide said, noting that overall, non-insured damage to the economy would be much higher.

Germany on Wednesday agreed the financing of an 8-billion-euro fund to help repair damage, with both the federal government and states footing the bill.

Catastrophe modelling firms use computers to cross-reference data on insured values with geographical, construction and meteorological information.

AIR Worldwide's loss estimate is the highest of rising loss forecasts. Credit rating agency Fitch said on June 11 that insured losses could be up to 3 billion euros in Germany.

Insurance broker Willis estimated claims of 4 billion euros in Europe.

A number of insurers have estimated their own share of the damage, after the flood waters began to recede and insurance adjusters were able to inspect homes and businesses.

Europe's biggest insurer, Allianz, saw its share at 500 million euros, before passing some of the claims on to reinsurers.

Talanx expected a hit of less than 250 million euros, including claims facing its reinsurance unit, Hannover Re .

Italy's Generali sees 100 million euros in claims.

The world's biggest reinsurer, Munich Re, on Thursday declined to comment on the AIR Worldwide estimate and said it was still too early to provide its own figure.

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