Cost of global disasters falls to $140 billion

A house on Raritan Bay in Union Beach, New Jersey that was torn in half by Superstorm Sandy Keystone

Natural and man-made disasters this year will cost at least $140 billion (SFr127 billion), says reinsurer Swiss Re. The most important losses were in the United States such as Superstorm Sandy.

This content was published on December 19, 2012 minutes and agencies

After two years of disasters mainly in Asia Pacific and South America, weather-related disasters in the US accounted for the bulk of the total, Swiss Re said in a report on Wednesday.

Superstorm Sandy, which wreaked havoc across the east coast of the country, as well as in the Caribbean and the Bahamas at the end of October, generated claims of up to $25 billion but Swiss Re said it was still too soon to gauge the final figure.

The reinsurer said the high cost was partly “the combination of moon tides and interference with concomitant weather patterns” that worsened the storm’s impact.

Extremely dry weather conditions in the US this year also led to “one of the worst droughts in recent decades, affecting more than half of the country”, Swiss Re added.

Natural disasters resulted in about 11,000 lives lost this year. Of the total expected claims, the insurance industry looks set to cover about $65 billion, down from a near-record $120 billion in 2011. The 2012 bill is nonetheless above the average for the past ten years.

The worst year for catastrophe claims was 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, contributing to a total insured loss of $123 billion, according to Swiss Re figures.

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