European shares rose on Monday in early deals, led higher by insurers as the downgrade of Hurricane Irma in the United States raised expectations that costs for the industry may be lower than initially feared.

Europe's insurance index (SXIP) was the biggest sectoral gainer, up 1.6 percent after the estimated insured loss in the U.S. resulting from Irma was cut to $20-40 billion.

Among top gainers in the sector were German reinsurers Hannover Re (DE:HNRGn) and Munich Re (DE:MUVGn), rising 5 and 3.5 percent respectively. Their gains added fuel to a broad-based rally, helping the pan-European STOXX 600 (STOXX) rise 0.6 percent.

The top faller in Europe was Danish pharmaceuticals company Lundbeck (CO:LUN), down 11 percent, after the resignation of CEO Kåre Schultz.

In the same sector, British heavyweight AstraZeneca (L:AZN) rose 3.1 percent after two of its drugs tackling lung cancer delivered impressive clinical results on Saturday.