Munich Re recently reported that worldwide natural catastrophes resulted in total economic losses of $70 billion and record insured losses of $22 billion in the first half of 2010.

Catastrophes outside the U.S. cost insurers a lot more than domestic disasters in the first-half of the year, which was unusual.

Disasters in the U.S. in the first-half accounted for just 28 percent of global insured catastrophe losses, compared with an average of 60 percent since 1980, according to Munich Re.

Since the half-year point, natural catastrophes around the world have continued apace. In recent weeks we’ve seen severe floods in Pakistan and China and Central Europe, forest fires in Russia, as well as the first hurricane of the Atlantic season here in the U.S.

In early August Munich Re said that the number of extreme weather events like windstorm and floods has tripled since 1980 and the trend is expected to persist.

Despite its somewhat slow start, forecasters predict the Atlantic hurricane season is about to kick off.

Over at Wunderblog, Dr. Jeff Masters notes that three models predict that a tropical storm will form between Africa and the lesser Antilles Islands sometime in the next three to six days.

All of which reminds us of the key role insurers play in defraying the economic costs of disasters.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on global catastrophes.