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Storms rain heavy losses on insurance industry

Natural and man-made disasters cost insurance companies $50 billion (SFr52.5 billion) in 2008, the second-most expensive year ever.

A study released on Thursday by Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurer, showed natural catastrophes this year killed 238,000 people and caused $43 billion in insured losses.

Storms were responsible for most of that sum. Hurricane Ike, which ravaged the United States and Caribbean in September, caused $20 billion in insured losses alone.

The remaining $7 billion in losses came from explosions and fires and other man-made disasters, the study found.

Over the past nine years only 2005 was more costly for the industry, when insured losses totalled $118 billion. Hurricane Katrina was responsible for $66 billion alone that year.


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