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LONDON (Reuters) - Australia's floods could cause total economic losses of up to $20.2 billion, making them the costliest natural disaster in the country's history, reinsurance broker Aon Benfield said on Thursday.
Weeks of severe flooding in eastern Australia have caused economic damages of $5.6 billion so far, and repairing and rebuilding costs could push the total bill to between $10.1 billion and $20.2 billion, Impact Forecasting, a unit of Aon Benfield, wrote in a report.
Preliminary insured losses from the disaster are $1.6 bln, Impact Forecasting said, citing figures from the Insurance Council of Australia.
Analysts have previously estimated that insurers will have to pay out about $6 billion in claims as a result of Australia's floods, with Cyclone Yasi, which struck the country's north-east coast on Wednesday, generating another $3.5 billion.
Munich Re, the world's top reinsurer, on Thursday unveiled a drop in its annual profit because of high natural disaster costs, including 270 million euros ($372 million) related to Australian flood damage incurred in the final quarter of 2010.
Reporting by Myles Neligan; Editing by David Holmes