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Disasters cost insurers 60% more in 2010

Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters cost the insurance industry $43 billion (SFr39.4 billion) in 2010, according to Zurich-based reinsurance firm Swiss Re.

This is an increase of more than 60 per cent over the previous year.

Swiss Re’s new estimates published on Tuesday showed natural catastrophes cost the industry about $40 billion, while man-made disasters triggered claims of more than $3 billion, compared with overall insured losses in 2009 of $27 billion.

Some 304,000 people died in these events, the highest number since 1976. The deadliest event in 2010 was the Haiti earthquake in January, which claimed more than 222,000 lives.

The reinsurer also revised its estimates of worldwide economic losses for the year to $218 billion, more than triple the 2009 figure of $68 billion. 

Earthquakes in Chile and New Zealand were the two costliest events, leading to insured losses estimated at $8 billion and $4.4 billion respectively.

The reinsurer also expects earthquake losses for 2011 to be above average due to the Japan disaster and February’s earthquake in New Zealand. Last week it estimated it would face $1.2 billion in claims from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Balz Grollimund, one of the Swiss Re study authors, said the number of fatalities and insured losses from earthquakes was on the rise, the main reasons being population growth and higher numbers living in urban areas.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR