Australia floods, Christchurch quake and Japan tsunami will hit insurers’ first quarter results

Cyclone Yasi, the Christchurch earthquake and the Japanese tsunami will produce insurance claims of about $500m, estimated Zurich Financial Services Group.

The estimate is based on preliminary reviews, representing an amount net of reinsurance and before tax.

The full loss assessment, and therefore the ultimate cost, will take time to complete due to the extreme nature of the losses and the limited access to the damaged areas particularly in Japan but also in New Zealand, said Zurich.

The losses for the five events, which include the Brisbane floods, the Victoria storms and cyclone Yasi that hit Australia in January and February, respectively, the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand in late February and the recent earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, will be recorded in the first quarter results 2011, which are due to be released on May 5, 2011.

“We are deeply saddened by the impact of these natural disasters,” said Zurich Chief Executive Martin Senn. “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.”