Reinsurance giant Swiss Re estimated on Monday that Japan's earthquake and tsunami have cost it some $1.2 billion, but said this figure could be revised upwards.

"/> Reinsurance giant Swiss Re estimated on Monday that Japan's earthquake and tsunami have cost it some $1.2 billion, but said this figure could be revised upwards.

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Swiss Re: Japan quake costs ‘over a billion’

Reinsurance giant Swiss Re estimated on Monday that Japan's earthquake and tsunami have cost it some $1.2 billion, but said this figure could be revised upwards.

“Based on preliminary estimates, Swiss Re expects its claims for the earthquake and the tsunami, net of the benefits of retrocession, to be approximately $1.2 billion before tax,” the group said in a statement.


“Our claims estimate is subject to a higher than usual degree of uncertainty, and may need to be subsequently adjusted,” it warned.

The determination of actual claims would require several months given the widespread destruction from the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, the Zurich-based reinsurer said.

An ensuing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant is, however, unlikely to lead to significant loss for the insurance industry as coverage for such facilities in Japan excludes earthquake shock, as well as fire following an earthquake and tsunami, Swiss Re said.

Neither would it be affected by residential properties claims arising from the earthquake and tsunami as these are reinsured locally.

Rather, claims for the reinsurer are expected to arise from commercial and industrial risks. It would also have to pay out residential claims coming from fire following the earthquake.

“We extend our sympathies to the Japanese nation as they cope with the human tragedy and the destruction caused by this event,” said Stefan Lippe, Swiss Re chief executive.

The group added that it has donated towards relief efforts and pledged to help rebuilding efforts. It is also matching any contributions from employees.

For members


EXPLAINED: Why you need ‘legal protection insurance’ in Switzerland

Swiss insurance companies offer a variety of services, but the one covering legal disputes is among the most popular ones. This is what you should know about it.

EXPLAINED: Why you need 'legal protection insurance' in Switzerland
Law and order: Legal insurance may make it easier. Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

The Swiss like to be prepared for all kinds of disasters — both real and imaginary.

This is where insurance comes in.

Whether it’s a policy that covers damages inflicted on cars by weasels, or insurance for theft of sleds and skis placed outside a mountain restaurant, people here don’t like to leave anything to chance.

One of the most popular optional coverages — as opposed the health insurance, which is compulsory — is legal protection insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherungen in German, protection juridique in French, and protezione giuridica in Italian).

What is it and what does it cover?

Simply put, it covers attorney and other associated fees if you undertake court action against someone, are sued, or simply need legal advice.

There are two different types of legal protection insurance — one specifically for traffic accidents and the other for all other matters. Sometimes they are combined.

Typically, this insurance covers costs of legal representation associated with contract disputes, employment, loans and debts, healthcare, housing, retail purchases, and travel.

Photo by Rodnae Productions from Pexels

Some carriers also insure cases related to marital law and inheritance.

Most will not cover attorney fees for criminal cases where you are the perpetrator, or financial disputes related to asset management, banking and investment.

Also excluded is legal action related to political or religious activism.

Can you choose your own lawyer or will you have one assigned to you by the insurance company?

Typically, an insurer has a roster of approved attorneys with whom it works. Some allow the client to choose from the list, while  others select one for you.

If your own lawyer is part of your insurer’s roster, you can request he or she represents you, but it is not guaranteed.

How much does this insurance cost?

Fees vary depending on what coverage you need (traffic accidents, general, or combined), whether they have deductibles, and how high they are.

You can compare the premiums by using this link.

Do you actually need this coverage?

As is the case with any optional insurance, you don’t need it until you do.

Generally speaking, and according to online consumer comparison site, “if you require legal consultation at least once every two years, getting personal legal insurance often makes financial sense. Just the legal consultation benefits which you get with some insurance policies can make up for the cost of premiums”.

READ MORE: How much does health insurance cost in Switzerland?