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Natural catastrophes – the growing threat

The 1970s were marked by numerous expensive natural catastrophes – cyclone Tracy in Darwin, Australia, earthquakes in California and Central America and the Capella gale in Western Europe to name but a few. Munich Re reacted by carrying out detailed research into natural catastrophes with a view to managing the risks professionally. The “Joint Office for Natural Hazards” was formed with a team comprising engineers, meteorologists and geophysicists – today’s Geo Risks Research unit. With the arrival of electronic data collection, services and tools were created, such as the Globe of Natural Hazards, the NatCatSERVICE and Nathan, which are now key tools in geographical underwriting.
Munich Re’s marketing was also restructured in the 1970s, with a standard worldwide corporate design and a new logo giving the company an unmistakable image.

Mexico Earthquake - 1985 - Munich Re

The Mexico earthquake in 1985 was one of Munich Re’s largest losses.

1970 – New offices in Australia and Venezuela
A business unit is opened in Sydney, Australia. The engineering contact office in Caracas, Venezuela is upgraded to a business unit.

1971 – Alois Alzheimer Foundation established
The foundation to provide support for the Bavarian National Museum is established on the occasion of Dr. Alois Alzheimer’s 70th birthday.

1972 – Manila
A business unit is established in Manila.

1973 – A standard worldwide corporate design
Anton Stankowski, one of the great designers and representatives of constructive-concrete post-war art, designs Munich Re’s new logo. The logo’s linear structure on a square field of parallel lines depicts the relationship between work and enterprise. It stands for connection and exchange, partnership and interaction, reciprocity and trust, development and order, safety and solidarity, and size and differentiation. The logo is introduced worldwide on 1 January.

1974 – Founding of GeoRisks Research Department
The number of natural catastrophes is rising rapidly. The “Joint Office for Natural Hazards” is set up. Under its later name of Geo Risks Research, it soon becomes an indispensable resource for politicians, scientists, industrialists and insurers worldwide.

1976 – Singapore
A business unit is opened in Singapore.

1976 –The Capella gale
In a gale that sweeps across Germany and Western Europe on 3 January, a ship, the Capella, sinks and 11 lives are lost. The total loss is DM 3bn, of which DM 1.2bn is insured. The cost for Munich Re is DM 175m.

1979 – Venturing into space
Space insurance comes into being. Due to the multi-line nature of spatial risks, an internal pool, the “RATE”, is created for space technology.

1981 – Taiwan
A business unit is opened in Taipei.

1984 – The Munich hailstorm
On 12 July, the greatest loss event in the history of the German insurance industry and one of the largest in Munich Re’s history occurs: the Munich hailstorm. The economic damage totals DM 3bn, the insured loss DM 1.5bn. The total cost for Munich Re amounts to DM 166m.

1985 – Mexico City earthquake
On 19 September, the largest city in the world is jolted by an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 on the Richter scale and a 7.5 magnitude aftershock the following day. 10,000 people are killed. A third of the city is reduced to rubble. The economic loss is estimated at US$ 4bn, the insured loss at US$ 275m. Mexico City’s earthquake is the largest earthquake loss since the 1923 quake in Tokyo and one of the greatest claims burdens for the company since it was founded.

1989 – Number of offices abroad rises to 65
New offices are opened in Seoul and Athens. Munich Re now has 65 offices outside Germany.

1989 – Hurricane Hugo
In September, Hurricane Hugo ravages the Caribbean and the USA. The insured loss is estimated at DM 7.5bn and the cost for Munich Re is DM 250m.


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