2012 Cat Losses Dominated By U.S. Weather Events

Worldwide economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters will likely reach at least $140 billion in 2012, of which insurers will pay close to half.

According to Swiss Re sigma preliminary estimates, insured losses arising from the catastrophic events of 2012 – such as Hurricane Sandy and drought in the U.S. – are set to reach roughly $65 billion. Natural catastrophes alone will lead to over 11,000 lives lost and roughly $60 billion in insured claims.

The tally is moderate compared to 2011, which saw historic insured losses of over $120 billion due to record earthquakes and flooding, but is above the average of the last 10 years, Swiss Re says.

After two years of historic losses arising from record earthquakes and floods in Asia Pacific and South America, 2012 is dominated by large, weather-related losses in the U.S. The top five insured loss events are also all in the U.S.

Swiss Re notes that Hurricane Sandy is the largest Atlantic hurricane on record in terms of wind span. This record storm surge caused widespread flooding and damage to a densely populated area on the East coast of the U.S. It also led to the worst power outage caused by a natural catastrophe in U.S. history.

Estimated insured losses from Sandy are put at between $20 and $25 billion. However, Swiss Re cautions that the total insured loss tally is subject to a high degree of uncertainty and it is still too soon to gauge the final overall damage.

Extremely dry weather conditions and limited snowfall in the U.S. also led to one of the worst droughts in recent decades, affecting more than half of the country. Swiss Re says drought-related agricultural losses are likely to reach around $11 billion, including pay-outs from federal assistance programs.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on global catastrophes here.

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