Insurer Zurich Q3 profit surges despite catastrophes

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Swiss insurer Zurich Financial Services (ZFS) posted Thursday a 64 percent jump in third quarter net profit to $1.2 billion, despite what it described as "the worst catastrophe year" since 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

However its combined ratio -- a measure of insurers' profitability -- weakened to 98.8 percent from 97.7 percent while turnover rose three percent to $15.4 billion over the three months ending September.

"Results were impacted by significant weather events in the third quarter, particularly Hurricane Irene in the United States and hailstorms in Switzerland and Germany," said the group.

Any margin improvements it managed to achieve during the period were "more than offset by the frequency and overall severity of catastrophes and significant weather-related loss events during the first nine months of 2011," the insurer said.

In fact, 2011 is turning out to be "the worst catastrophe year since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans."

During the first six months, the insurer was also been hit by claims arising from earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand.

© 2011 AFP

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