Cat Losses to Rise

Swiss Re has warned insurers to prepare for much higher catastrophe losses in future – more than the record $120 billion set in 2005 – despite a below average year in 2009 due to a calm U.S. hurricane season. Natcat losses in 2010 could be three to five times what they were in 2009, given their volatility, Thomas Hess, chief economist at Swiss Re observed. Already, 2010 has seen significant events with winter storm Xynthia in Europe and earthquakes in Chile and Haiti. The warning came as Swiss Re’s latest sigma study showed that natural catastrophes and man-made disasters worldwide claimed around 15,000 lives and cost insurers just $26 billion in 2009. While the overall cost to society was $62 billion, insured losses were below average due to the calm U.S. hurricane season. Insured losses were highest in North America where they cost insurers over $12.7 billion, Swiss Re noted. The death toll was highest in Asia, where nearly 9,400 of the world’s 15,000 catastrophe victims lived. Insured losses in the region were approximately $2.4 billion. Overall, 133 natural catastrophes and 155 man-made disasters occurred in 2009. Six events each triggered insured losses in excess of $1 billion. The costliest event was the European winter storm Klaus which struck France and Spain in January and led to insured losses of nearly $3.4 billion. Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on global catastrophes.

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