Sat, 22 Sep 2001

From: Jawawa

;AFP; ANPAf..r.. US-attacks-insure-S&P Insurers face US$17.5b losses from U.S. attacks in US: S&P JP/10/Insure

PARIS (AFP): Leading insurers and reinsurers are facing total losses of at least US$17.5 billion from the terrorist attacks in the United States, according to credit rating agency Standard & Poor's.

"To date, leading insurers and reinsurers have accumulated net aggregate insured losses of $17.5 billion," S&P said in a statement Thursday.

"The total loss figure could rise significantly," it said.

S&P lowered and placed on negative credit watch its ratings on two insurers with exposure to last week's losses at the destroyed World Trade Center: Lloyd's of London and Zurich Insurance company.

The financial strength rating on Lloyd's was lowered to "A" from "A-plus." For Zurich Insurance, its counterpart credit rating was lowered to "AA" from "AA-plus/negative" and its financial strength rating was cut to "AA" from "AA-plus".

At the same time S and P also placed its ratings on an additional 15 insurance groups on credit watch with negative implications.

The agency reiterated that total industry losses would have to exceed $50 billion before it would worry about a substantial number of insurers' claims-paying ability being compromised.

Separately, the world's two largest reinsurance companies said Thursday that last week's terror attacks in New York will produce far and away the largest claims they have ever faced, doubling their previous estimates to $3.2 billion.

Munich Re, the largest reinsurer, said this year's damage claims from the U.S. terrorist attacks could cost it 2.1 billion euros ($1.95 billion) before tax.

In Zurich, Switzerland, Swiss Re said the strikes will have an after-tax effect of around 2 billion Swiss francs ($1.25 billion) in the current year - about two thirds of 2000's annual profit.