Greek insurers see limited impact from wildfires

26 August 2009

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  Authorities say about 150 homes damaged

* Possibly only 1 in 5 insured – portfolio manager

* Too early to give accurate damages figure

ATHENS, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Greek insurers said on Tuesday they expected claims of property losses from the wildfires that swept through the Athens suburbs to be small, though it was too early to give an accurate figure.

Authorities have said about 150 homes were damaged by the three-day inferno in Attica that also destroyed thousands of hectares of pine forest. Property owners were expected to take several days to assess their losses and file claims.

One insurance company official said the impact from claims should be limited as many of the affected properties were not insured.

“A first estimate for the sector is that the claims for property damages will be in the area of several million euros,” said Nikos Halkiopoulos, manager of the casualty portfolio at insurer European Reliance (EREr.AT: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

“In Greece, only 10 percent of homes are insured for losses from fires and in northeast Attica this could be about 20 percent,” he said.

The fires forced thousands of people to abandon what are mainly holiday homes, many frantically using garden hoses and tree branches to try to stop the flames reaching their properties.

“It’s too early to have a total picture on the damages from the wildfires and the impact on the insurance sector,” said Doukas Paleologos, board chairman at National Insurance, a unit of the country’s biggest lender National Bank (NBGr.AT: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

“The first impression is that most of the damage from the fires did not cause property losses but affected areas outside homes. We should have a better picture tomorrow,” he said. Officials said few claims had so far been filed.

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