Experts believe a pandemic event will occur in the foreseeable future, but their views vary widely regarding how it will unfold and what excess mortality fi gures will result. Although analyses of past pandemics provide an insight into possible future scenarios, a simple extrapolation of statistics can be highly misleading. However, the 1918 Spanish fl u is often used as a basis for projecting the possible impact of a severe pandemic. Looking at the overall circumstances under which the 1918 influenza broke out, the authors seek to draw realistic comparisons with the current situation and to assess the potential impact of an infl uenza pandemic on the (re)insurance industry as well as to identify steps toward better preparedness.

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