One of Europe's biggest insurance companies has said that last month's floods across central Europe will likely cost insurers up to $4.5 billion.

The Elbe, the Danube and other rivers overflowed their banks in early June following persistent heavy rain, causing extensive damage in parts of Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

Swiss Re said today that the total losses for the insurance industry will be between $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion. It put its own exposure at about $300m.

Swiss Re is a reinsurer, meaning that it provides coverage to insurance companies for large losses stemming from events like natural disasters.

The company noted that "effective local prevention measures," such as mobile flood barriers that were put up in the Czech capital, Prague, spared many regions from major losses.