German reinsurance group Munich Re expects net profit to bounce back this year after more than halving in 2020 as the coronavirus crisis helped drive claims to a near-decade high. 

Major losses in 2020 for the virus and natural catastrophes totalled €4.689 billion, the highest level since 2011.

The firm had to make payouts for a tsunami in Japan, major earthquakes in New Zealand and the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in 2011.

Pandemic-related claims alone amounted to more than €3.4 billion. 

"In spite of the tremendous challenges posed by Covid-19, Munich Re closed out 2020 with a clear profit," chief executive Joachim Wenning said. 

Its net profit of €1.211 billion compares with €2.707 billion a year earlier, and is slightly below a consensus forecast of €1.261 billion. 

Munich Re said it expects profit to rebound to €2.8 billion in 2021. 

The insurance industry has faced large claims from the pandemic, such as those for cancelled events and postponed events including the Olympics, as well as losses from hurricanes and wildfires in the US. 

The virus uncertainty prompted the company to refrain from providing a full-year profit target and it will no longer insure against events cancelled due to pandemics. 

Munich Re's results, while weaker in the aftermath of the virus, contrast favourably with those of competitor Swiss Re, which posted a full-year loss of $878m, its first loss since the financial crisis in 2008.