Major hurricanes now once a decade — not once a century, top reinsurance firm says

  • "Last years' three hurricanes together — the $135 billion of losses — are a one in 10 year event not a one in a 100 year event," John Dacey, chief financial officer of Swiss Re, told CNBC's Joumanna Bercetche on Friday.
  • The company posted net profit of $1.0 billion during the first half of the year, down from $1.2 billion a year earlier.
  • The insurance industry is still recovering from its costliest year on record in 2017, following a series of major hurricanes, fires and earthquakes in North America.

Swiss Re's chief financial officer told CNBC Friday that he expects the occurrence of multiple, powerful hurricanes to become increasingly common over the coming years.

"Climate change is in fact warming not just the Earth but also the oceans and one of the reasons why the expectation of future hurricanes is so high is that last years' three hurricanes together — the $135 billion of losses — are a one in 10 year event not a one in a 100 year event," John Dacey, chief financial officer of Swiss Re, told CNBC's Joumanna Bercetche on Friday.

"We see the possibility for a repetition of these kinds of losses in the foreseeable future," he added.

The insurance industry is still reeling from its costliest year on record in 2017, following a series of major hurricanes, fires and earthquakes in North America.

More than half of the total insured losses last year were due to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria — with each wrecking havoc in the U.S. and the Caribbean in the latter half of 2017. Earlier this year, Swiss Re warned more research into climate change and its impact on extreme weather events would be necessary.

Weaker-than-expected earnings

The world's second-largest reinsurer (a company which insures the risks of other insurance companies) posted net profit of $1.0 billion during the first half of the year, down from $1.2 billion a year earlier. Despite the 17 percent fall in profit, Swiss Re said its latest figures would have been flat if it did not have to account for the changes in U.S. GAAP that affect the measurement of equity investments.

Reuters analysts had expected net profit of $1.13 billion.

Meanwhile, falling prices and intense competition has ratcheted up the pressure for Swiss Re and its rivals in recent years.

In February, the company was in talks with SoftBank over the possibility of the Japanese firm taking a stake in the reinsurer, but discussions ended without a deal.

Swiss Re also announced Friday it is exploring the listing of its U.K. closed book business ReAssure next year. It said any potential initial public offering (IPO) of ReAssure could help grant access to new capital in order for the U.K. unit to acquire additional closed books.