Swiss Re Leaves Space Insurance Market

Built by Lockheed Martin, the WorldView-4 satellite will expand DigitalGlobe’s industry-leading constellation of high-accuracy, high-resolution satellites, and double the availability of 30 cm resolution imagery for commercial and government customers around the globe. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

SpaceNews reports that Swiss Re has left the space insurance market due to losses.

Jan Schmidt, the head of Swiss Re’s space underwriting division, said in an email obtained by SpaceNews that the decision to “cease Space underwriting with immediate effect” was driven by “bad results of recent years and unsustainable premium rates.”

Schmidt emailed clients and brokers the same day Swiss Re board member Andreas Berger told Reuters the company is reducing its space exposure as part of a broader effort to stem losses in its corporate insurance divisions.

Swiss Re is the world’s second largest reinsurance company.

The failure of an European Vega rocket last month resulted in $407 million (369 million euros) in losses to the insurance industry. The United Arab Emirate’s Falcon Eye 1 satellite was lost in the failure.

That accident followed on the heels of a $183 million claim by Maxar Technologies after the WorldView-4 satellite failed in orbit.

Satellite Insurance Rates Increasing After Failures of Vega, WorldView-4

Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying Italy’s PRISMA Earth observation satellite on the third Arianespace mission of 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

Reuters reports that insurance rates are going up following the failure of an European Vega rocket that destroyed a very expensive United Arab Emirate’s military reconnaissance satellite last month.

The loss of the Falcon Eye 1 satellite will cost insurers $411.21 million (369 million euros), which is the highest recorded amount for an insured satellite, Reuters reported.

The Vega rocket carrying the satellite failed on July 10 due to an anomaly in its second stage. It was the first failure of the rocket in 15 launch attempts.

In January, the failure of Maxar Technologies’ WorldView-4 imaging satelite resulted in an $183 million insurance claim.

Reuters reports that insurance payouts of $600 million outpaced premiums paid by about $150 million last year.

The cost of insuring satellites had come down in recent years due to cheaper launch costs and better booster reliability.