AIG unit forecasts Japan quake loss of $700

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Insurer AIG said Friday that Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami disaster would cost its Chartis subsidiary $700 million in the first quarter of 2011.

AIG said the property casualty insurance unit would be hit with another $200 million in pre-tax insurance losses from other disasters, including the January New Zealand earthquake, and huge floods in Australia and Brazil.

The preliminary Chartis loss estimates from the Japan disaster excluded AIG’s general insurance operations in Japan, it said.

It said the maximum loss it could incur from those operations would be $575 million, mainly from its participation in the Japanese government’s earthquake insurance pool for private homes, which holds about $500 million in AIG reserves.

On home losses, it said, “the industry loss remains unquantified at this time.”

“The catastrophe in Japan has affected people, their homes, infrastructure, and businesses both in and outside of Japan, and our industry is working hard to quantify the complex impact of the devastation, a process that will take some time,” said AIG chief executive Robert H. Benmosche in a statement.

“As a result, our preliminary loss estimate will change as the industry losses from (the government insurance pool) for earthquake damage to personal dwellings become known and other information becomes available as the situation in the quarter evolves.”

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