Global catastrophe losses hit US$36 billion in first half of 2018… Zurich reports strong performance for first half of 2018… Google parent pumps $375 million into insurance start-up


 Global catastrophe losses hit US$36 billion in first half of 2018

HARARE, Global economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters reached US$36 billion in the first half of 2018, according to new data from the Swiss Re Institute.

Global insured losses from disasters were US$20 billion in the first half of the year, according to the institute’s sigma estimates. That’s down from US$30 billion in the first half of 2018. Disaster events claimed about 3,900 victims in the first half of 2018 – the lowest half-year total in more than three decades.

The total economic loss of US$36 billion is also well below the 10-year average of US$125 billion, according to the institute.

Natural catastrophes accounted for about US$34 billion in losses in the first half, compared to US$58 billion in 2017. The remaining US$2 billion was caused by man-made disasters, according to Swiss Re Institute. Global insured losses from natural disasters fell from US$25 billion in the first half of 2017 to US$18 billion in the first half of this year.


Insured losses from man-made disasters fell to US$2 billion, down from US$5 billion in the first half of 2017. Nearly 56% of all global economic losses were insured, as most disaster events occurred in areas with high insurance penetration, the Swiss Re Institute reported.

The costliest single disaster event in the first half from a loss perspective was winter storm Friederike in Europe. The largest losses from the storm were in Germany and the Netherlands, although France, Belgium and the UK were also affected. The Swiss Re Institute estimated the total economic losses from the storm at US$2.7 billion, with US$2.1 billion of those losses insured.

A series of winter storms in the US caused total economic losses of US$4 billion, including US$2.9 billion in insured losses. A March Nor’easter storm caused the largest loss for the insurance industry in the US during the first half, with claims totaling US$1.6 billion.

Higher losses may still lie ahead in the second half, however. Several parts of the world have seen heatwaves and severe dry weather conditions, which have sparked wildfire outbreaks in California and Greece and caused widespread drought across Europe and southern Australia.

“We expect to see more extreme weather conditions, such as intense heatwaves and dry spells of the like we’ve seen over the last few weeks,” said Martin Bertogg, head of catastrophe perils at Swiss Re. “This may well become the new normal. According to scientific climate models, temperature and atmospheric humidity will increase in many parts of the world, and at the same time also become more volatile.

We will experience more variable rain patterns and severe droughts – and in consequence raging wildfires. Accelerating urbanization and the ongoing expansion of dwellings in natural forest areas will considerably exacerbate this loss potential. Society will need to adapt and prepare for these increasing occurrences.”


Zurich reports strong performance for first half of 2018




Half year results 2018 at a glance:


Business operating profit (BOP) up 12% to USD 2.4 billion and first half net income after tax attributable to shareholders up 19% to USD 1.8 billion

Well positioned to deliver on 2017 to 2019 financial targets with approximately USD 900 million in cost savings achieved, a BOPAT ROE of 12.3%, an estimated Zurich Economic Capital Model (Z-ECM) ratio of 134%1 and cash remittance levels on track to achieve in excess of USD 9.5 billion target

Property & Casualty (P&C) combined ratio improved by two percentage points to 97.5% with improved current accident year loss ratio and lower administration expenses

Strong Life performance with BOP up 17% from portfolio growth, reduced costs and favorable foreign exchange developments; like-for-like growth in APE of 11%, with one percentage point expansion in new business margin to 26.4%

Farmers Exchanges2 achieved a 6.6 percentage point combined ratio improvement while growing its continuing operations gross written premiums by 4.7%


Group Chief Executive Officer Mario Greco said: “I’m extremely pleased with our continued progress. Our businesses are showing great resilience and improved profitability despite challenging market conditions.


At the midpoint of our three-year plan, we stand well on track to achieve all indicated targets by the end of 2019. And we are progressing fast in the implementation of the strategy we launched in November 2016.”

Mr. Greco added: “In the first six months of this year, we strengthened market share in Latin America and Australia and established a powerful global platform in the highly dynamic and promising travel assistance business. In addition, we bolstered our innovation capabilities through technology platforms like Zurich Insurance Mobile Solutions and launched a series of new digital solutions for customers.”

Mr. Greco concluded: “Zurich today is a motivated team of skilled professionals serving over 70 million customers worldwide. We are proud of all we have accomplished, and with the support of a strong brand we will continue to drive new ways to create value for our customers.”

Google parent pumps $375 million into insurance start-up

HARARE, Health insurance start-up Oscar Health is getting a fresh round of funding from Google’s parent firm Alphabet. The conglomerate announced Tuesday it is investing a whopping $375 million into the insurer following an initial $165 million investment earlier this year.

CNN reported that longtime Google executive and former YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar will join the start-up’s board. The New York-based insurer was founded in 2012, and aims to makes it easier for patients to access and choose quality, affordable care.

“We weren’t out there trying to raise additional money. We raised a round a couple of months ago. But Alphabet has just been talking to us for the past three years, and it took them awhile to get to the point where they really said, ‘This is something we believe in and want to put more money behind’,” said CEO Mario Schlosser in an interview with WIRED.

It operates a platform that is integrated with doctors and hospitals and gives members a personalized, technology-enabled service. The firm had over 250,000 members as of 2018, and has a team of over 700 employees.

Its notable partnerships include a joint venture with Cleveland Clinic for individuals, a joint venture with Humana for small businesses, and a strategic partnership with AXA for re-insurance.