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Japanese flood bill rises

Japanese insurers are facing a growing claims bill after heavy storm activity in the country during August and September led to severe flooding and landslides.

Large swathes of central and eastern Japan were left underwater following a string of typhoons and tropical storms during the last few weeks - starting with Typhoon Goni in late August and culminating in Tropical Storm Etau, which has abated in the past week.

Japan's big three non-life insurers - MS&AD Insurance Group, Tokio Marine Holdings and Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdings - are expecting to pay around 100bn yen ($833mn) for damage related to the severe weather conditions, according to a report from Nikkei Asia Review.

Some 30bn yen is said to be linked to unprecedented levels of rainfall from Etau, while 70bn yen is expected to be paid out for claims relating to damage from Goni.

Overall, the three companies have forecast around 120 billion yen will be collectively paid out in claims for the year ending March 2016. The trio are reportedly planning to draw down on cat reserves to ensure claims are paid.

Japanese insurers are typically heavy buyers of pro-rata reinsurance, meaning even relatively small losses can result in reinsurance recoveries - although no indication has yet been given on reinsurers' exposure to this event.

As of Friday (18 September), more than 19,000 residential and commercial properties had been damaged by the storms.

Damage to the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries was reported at around 11.7bn yen, according to statistics from Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency. A total of 453 landslides were also reported.

In addition, an Impact Forecasting report noted 293 bags containing radioactive waste were swept away by floodwaters in the Fukushima area. As of Friday, only 171 had been retrieved, while there was evidence that others had leaked their contents.

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