By Chris Vellacott
LONDON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Insurers nursing hefty losses from severe spring floods in Europe face paying out a similar amount again after areas of Germany and France were repeatedly pounded by grapefruit-sized hail stones over the summer.
Analysis from the reinsurance arm of broker Willis estimates the insured loss from a run of hail storms to hit central Europe between June 17 and August 6 at around 3.5 billion euros ($4.72 billion).
The insurance industry was hit earlier in the year by insured losses estimated at between 3 billion euros and 4 billion euros from flooding in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic following weeks of torrential rain in May and June.
According to Willis, a series of storms caused by a meeting of cold Atlantic air with hot and humid weather sitting over central Europe during the summer led to the subsequent "severe hailstorm activity" in France and Germany.
Many of the affected areas were battered by hailstones measuring more than 7 cm in diameter.
On August 6 a hail stone measuring 11.9 cm was recovered near Stuttgart, Germany, the largest ever to be preserved in Europe, Willis said.
Dirk Spenner, managing director at Willis Re said the size of the insured loss reflects both the extreme size of the hail stones and the affluence of the areas affected.
"The hail storms hit a number of affluent areas, and so the property that they damaged - such as cars and housing - was worth a considerable amount of money," he said.