Natural catastrophes caused global insured losses of about $31 billion in 2013, according to an analysis Munich Reinsurance Co. released on Tuesday.
That was considerably below the 2003-2012 10-year average of approximately $56 billion, according to Munich Re. The reinsurer noted, however, that 2013's number of natural catastrophes exceeded that of the 10-year average 880 in 2013 compared with an average of 790.
Insured natural catastrophe damage in the United States amounted to about $12.8 billion, less than half of the 10-year $29.4 billion average. Munich Re pointed out that despite initial predictions of above-average Atlantic hurricane activity, the 2013 season was unusually quiet. In fact the number of hurricanes was the lowest since 1982, according to the analysis. But insured losses from U.S. thunderstorms reached about $10 billion despite the lowest observed tornado count in a decade, Munich Re said.
The most expensive event for the insurance industry in 2013 was a squall line with hailstorms that hit some regions in northern and southwestern Germany, causing about $3.7 billion in insured losses, Munich Re said.
The most severe catastrophe in human terms was caused by Supertyphoon Haiyan, which hit the southern Philippines on Nov. 7 and killed more than 6,000 people, although insured losses are expected to be relatively low because of low insurance penetration, according to Munich Re.
“Several of the events of 2013 illustrated how well warnings and loss minimization measures can restrict the impact of natural catastrophes. In the case of the most recent winter storms in Europe, for example, the losses remained comparatively low,” Torsten Jeworrek, the Munich Re board member responsible for global reinsurance business, said in a statement.
“At the same time, events like those in the Philippines show the urgent need for more to be done in developing and emerging countries to protect people better,” he said. Such protections include more stable buildings and protection facilities as well as state-backed insurance programs “to provide those affected with financial assistance after a disaster.”