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Natural catastrophes cause lower insured losses in first half of 2015

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Insured losses from natural catastrophes totaled about $12 billion in the first half of 2015, lower than the long-term average of $15 billion, according to a report by Munich Reinsurance Co. released Tuesday.

The costliest insured natural catastrophe loss during the first six months of 2015 was a series of winter storms that hit the northeastern United States and Canada in February, Munich Re said, with insured losses of $1.8 billion and total economic losses of $2.4 billion.

The largest insured loss to hit Europe in the first half of 2015 was Windstorm Niklas, which resulted in insured losses of about $1 billion, Munich Re said.

Heavy rain and flash floods in southeastern Australia in April caused insured losses of about $630 million, the report said.

Cyclone Marcia, a Category 5 cyclone, caused insured losses of about $400 million when it struck Queensland, Australia, in February.

The natural catastrophe that resulted in the largest loss of life in the first half of 2015 was the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal in April. About 8,500 people died and many designated heritage sites were destroyed.

The earthquake caused the largest economic losses — $4.5 billion — of any natural catastrophe during the first half of 2015, but just $140 million of that total was insured, according to the report.

“The natural catastrophes in the first half of the year show us once again that vulnerability to natural catastrophes needs to be reduced, particularly in emerging and developing countries,” said Torsten Jeworrek, Munich Re board member with responsibility for global reinsurance, in a statement.