No one really knows how much the recent Southeast Asian earthquake and tsunamis will cost life insurers and life reinsurers, according to analysts at Fitch Ratings, Chicago.

An earthquake off the coast of Sumatra with a magnitude of 9.0 caused tsunamis that have killed more than 114,000 people in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other countries.

The experts are just starting to assess the effect of the tragic disasters on claim costs.

“At present, there are no reliable estimates of the insured losses resulting from this earthquake,” Fitch analysts write in a comment on the disasters. “To date, none of the major catastrophe modeling firms has issued any insured loss estimates.”

Its not clear how many of the victims who lived in the affected region owned substantial amounts of life insurance, but the tsunamis hit destinations that were popular with tourists. A high percentage of the foreign tourists killed may have owned life high face value insurance policies.

The event “has the potential to generate significant life insurance and travel accident claims,” the Fitch analysts write. “It will likely be some time before all of the life insurance claims are submitted as large numbers of people remain unaccounted for.”

–By Allison Bell


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, December 30, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.