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Natural catastrophes cost global insurers US$24 billion


November 30, 2009   by Canadian Underwriter


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The total global cost to insurers of natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2009 was US$24 billion, versus US$50 billion worldwide in 2008, according to initial estimates published in Swiss Re’s forthcoming sigma study.
 “Insured losses were below average due to a calm U.S. hurricane season,” Swiss Re reports.
Worldwide, natural catastrophes will cost insurers roughly US$21billion, with man-made disasters triggering additional claims of approximately US$3 billion, Swiss Re reports.
Despite comparatively fewer losses in 2009 due to the calm hurricane season, Europe suffered above-average insured losses in 2009, Swiss Re says.
“Claims from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters during the first seven months of 2009 were nearly double the average over the last 20 years,” the sigma report says. “Between January and July, five events each triggered insured losses in excess of US$1 billion.
“The costliest event was winter storm Klaus, which struck France and Spain in January, and led to insured losses of US$3.5 billion.”
In the United States, a winter storm and two tornadoes generated total insured losses of roughly US$3.5 billion.
Canada did not factor into Swiss Re’s table listing the “most costly insured losses of 2009.”
Thomas Hess, chief economist at Swiss Re, commented: “In 2009, we [thankfully] saw no such event like Hurricane Katrina, which caused US$71 billion in losses back in 2005.
“We were lucky, but that may not be the case next year. Though losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters have continuously trended upwards in the past 20 years, we still see high volatility from year to year.”