The (re)insurer was hit hard by large cat losses in 2017

Large catastrophe losses of $4.7bn (£3.4bn) slashed Swiss Re’s 2017 profit to less than a tenth the profit it posted for 2016.

With the reinsurer seeing combined claims from large natural catastrophes totalling $4.7bn, 2017 was “one of the costliest years for the (re)insurance sector in history”.

Swiss Re reported group net income slumped to $331m from $3.6bn the previous year.

Hit by Cyclone Debbie in Australia, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in the Atlantic, Mexican earthquakes and California wildfires, the property and casualty reinsurance business saw a net loss of $413m in 2017, against a year earlier profit of $2.1bn. The division saw its combined ratio move out to 111.5% from 93.5%.

Swiss Re also reported its January 2018 renewals premium volume was up 8%, with prices increased by 2%.

The group said that, despite the large losses in 2017, its economic solvency “remains very strong and comfortably above the group’s respectability level of 220%”.

Swiss Re group chief financial officer David Cole said: “The 2017 results clearly show the strength of our diversified business model. The losses in our P&C businesses were offset by strong results in our life and health businesses, further supported by our investment performance. Our capital position remains very strong and we continue to have ample financial flexibility to invest in future growth and business opportunities as they arise