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Disasters caused $34B in insured losses worldwide in 2014: Swiss Re

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Insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters totaled $34 billion in 2014, down 24% from $45 billion in 2013, according to preliminary estimates released Wednesday by Swiss Re Ltd.

Of those insured losses, about $29 billion were caused by natural catastrophe events, compared with about $37 billion in 2013, according to the Swiss Re sigma study.

Total economic losses from disaster events were about $113 billion in 2014, down from $135 billion in 2013, the study said.

About 11,000 people lost their lives because of natural or man-made disasters in 2014, down from more than 27,000 fatalities in 2013, the study showed.

The most costly insured catastrophe loss in 2014 was from thunderstorms and hail in the United States in May, which resulted in insured losses of $2.9 billion and economic losses of $3.7 billion, the study showed.

Windstorm Ela, which hit parts of Belgium, France and Germany in June, caused insured losses of $2.7 billion and economic losses of $3.1 billion, according to the study.

A snowstorm in Japan in February caused insured losses of $2.5 billion and economic losses of $5.0 billion, the report said, while a snowstorm in the United States in January caused insured losses of $1.7 billion and economic losses of $2.5 billion.

Hurricane Odile, which hit Mexico in September, caused insured losses of $1.6 billion and economic losses of $3.2 billion, while thunderstorms in the United States in June resulted in insured losses of $1.3 billion and economic losses of $1.7 billion, the report showed.

Swiss Re said its estimates were based on data received before Nov. 28, and that they were subject to change.

The North Atlantic hurricane season was relatively mild in 2014, the report noted, with no major hurricane making landfall in the United States.

But losses from low temperatures and heavy snow in the United States were high, it said, with the insured loss of $1.7 billion in January exceeding the average full-year winter storm loss of $1.1 billion, when the U.S. was hit by the so-called Polar Vortex.