Insurer says losses were limited to a "manageable level".

Zurich has confirmed it expects aggregate claims payments related to hurricanes Gustav and Ike of approximately $600m before tax, based on preliminary estimates.

The insurer said the figure is net of reinsurance recoverables and includes reinsurance reinstatement premiums.

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike respectively hit the US Gulf Coast on September 1 and September 13 of this year, affecting large areas of Texas, Louisiana and parts of the Midwest.

The estimate comprises approximately $55m for Gustav and $545m for Ike. Zurich said the charges will be recorded in the nine months results 2008, which are due to be released on November 13, 2008.

In a statement, Zurich said that taking into account these catastrophe costs and the previously announced bond impairments in connection with three defaulted institutions, the estimate of its surplus remains comfortably above its internal AA-calibrated risk based capital requirement and at a strong Group solvency level (Solvency I).

Dieter Wemmer, chief financial officer of Zurich, said: “The steps we have taken to proactively manage our exposures to natural catastrophes in the US limited our losses to a very manageable level.

“It is also a testament to the strength of our balance sheet that we can absorb these losses and still maintain such a healthy solvency position.”