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Zurich Insurance puts Sandy cost at $700m

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ZURICH, Switzerland, Dec 17 AFP

December 17 2012, 10:47PM

Swiss insurer Zurich Insurance Group says Superstorm Sandy has hit it with claims worth about $US700 million ($A666.70 million).

"It's difficult to say exactly how much the final amount will be. It could be a bit higher or a bit lower (but) usually our estimates are good," Sylvia Gaeumann, a spokeswoman for the insurer told AFP.

Gaeumann explained the actual amount of claims was higher than $US700 million, but that the insurer was partially shielded through reinsurance coverage, which had kicked in.

This however meant that Zurich Insurance Group would need to renew its reinsurance contract, which was expected to cost an extra $US58 million before tax, the company said.

The estimated costs would be recorded in the company's fourth quarter and full-year results, which will be published on February 14, it said in a statement.

Zurich Insurance Group was not hit so hard as its compatriot Swiss Re, which late last month put its exposure to Sandy at about $US900 million.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama asked for $US60.4 billion in emergency funds to repair devastation after the storm, which flooded the New York subway system and knocked out electricity for hundreds of thousands of people.