AirAsia flight QZ8501 is the third Allianz-insured flight to go down this year

Emma Haslett
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Rescuers prepare to search for debris (Source: Getty)

It's emerged Allianz is the lead reinsurer on AirAsia flight QZ8501, which has just disappeared above the Java Sea to become the third major air disaster the company has paid out on in the past year.

Shares in Allianz fell a modest 1.36 per cent in mid-morning trading, as the company confirmed it was the "lead reinsurer for AirAsia, for aviation hull and liability insurance".

The company has already paid out on claims relating to the losses of Malaysia Airlines flights MH370 and MH17.

It's been an unusually expensive year for aviation insurers. In a report published in September, Allianz said this year's loss activity had been "dominated by a number of extraordinary and tragic events".

The report pointed out that, along with the losses of MH370 and MH17, damage to planes at Tripoli airport during fighting between rival militia, which cost the industry $750m, and the downing of Air Algerie flight AH5017, the aviation sector was responsible for "four of the 10 major non-natural catastrophe losses of the year".

And another report published earlier this month by the insurer suggested the cost of aviation claims is rising. Aviation losses generated 23 per cent of major insurance claims (worth more than $1.36m), although 18 per cent of claims related to ground handling problems, compared with 16 per cent relating to mechanical failure.

So how much will Allianz have to pay out this time? Although the going rate for a second-hand Airbus 320 is about $94m (£60m), it is likely the plane is insured for less than that, Reuters reported.

On top of that, it will pay out up to $165,000 per passenger - that's about $27m in total for all 162 passengers on board the flight. Although, if the airline is found to have been at fault (admittedly unlikely, given the disappearance has largely been put down to bad weather), those claims could be higher.

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