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Munich Re calculates decrease in natural catastrophe losses for 2015

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Losses from natural catastrophes were lower in 2015 than the previous year, according to a report by Munich Reinsurance Co. Monday.

Munich Re said that in 2015 insured losses from natural catastrophes totalled about $27 billion compared with insured losses of about $31 billion in 2014.

Munich Re said economic losses from natural catastrophes were about $90 billion in 2015 compared with $110 billion in 2014.

The reinsurer said that one factor behind reduced losses was the reduction in North Atlantic hurricane activity caused by El Nino.

The costliest and deadliest disaster was the April earthquake in Nepal which caused economic losses of about $4.8 billion and killed about 9,000 people.

Insured losses from the Nepal quake and its aftershocks totalled just $210 million, Munich Re said.

Munich Re said that Storm Desmond, which caused widespread flooding in northern England in early December, could cause insured losses of about $800 million across northern Europe.

“In terms of financial losses, we were somewhat fortunate in 2015. Strong tropical cyclones frequently only hit sparsely populated areas or did not make landfall at all,” said Peter Hoppe, head of Munich Re's Geo Risks research unit, in a statement.

But, he said, the relatively low number of losses in 2015 should not cause complacency, as many scientists believe that a strong El Nino phase may be followed by its twin — La Nina — which would likely promote the development of hurricanes in the North Atlantic.