April 1, 2007 by
At US$15.9 billion, insured catastrophe damage in 2006 represented the third-mildest loss year since 1990, according to a Swiss Re sigma report [No 2/2007]. Of these insured losses worldwide, natural catastrophes accounted for US$11.8 billion of the total. Storms caused insured losses of US$8.4 billion, which represented the most costly damage category.
The sigma report notes the rise in insured losses over the past decades is attributable mainly to weather-related natural catastrophes. “Whereas in the 1970s, the claims burden on property insurers due to severe storms, floods, etc. was still around US$2.9 billion per year, in the 1980s, it rose to US$5.7 billion and in the 1990s reached US$18.2 billion.”
Since 2000, the report adds, the average total of insured claims related to natural catastrophes has been US$30.4 billion per year. “The upward curve in insured losses reflects the trend towards an increasing concentration of property values, especially in highly-exposed regions,” the sigma report says. “Going forward, the loss situation is likely to be aggravated by the effects of global warming, which is almost certainly mainly driven by human activity.”