July 31, 2020 / 5:24 AM / 15 days ago

Swiss Re swings to first-half loss amid COVID-19 claims and reserves

The logo of insurance company Swiss Re is seen in front of its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd WIegmann

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Reinsurance company Swiss Re (SRENH.S) said on Friday the $2.5 billion in claims and reserves related to COVID-19 that it booked in the first half of the year would likely cover the bulk of its pandemic-related losses.

The Zurich-based company, confirming figures released last week, said it swung to a loss of $1.1 billion (837.58 million pounds) in the first half of the year. That extended a loss in the first quarter and more than erased $953 million in net profit during the first six months of 2019.

“We expect the claims and reserves we have booked in the first half of 2020 to cover the majority of our ultimate COVID-19 losses,” said Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler.

Swiss Re’s combined ratio in its property and casualty division, a key measure of profitability for its biggest revenue generator, worsened to 115.8% versus 100.5% a year earlier. Readings below 100 indicate profitability.

The company said a turnaround of its corporate insurance arm, which has recently reported losses, was “well on track”. It narrowed its net loss to $301 million in the first half of the year from $403 million a year earlier.

Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Michelle Martin

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