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Catastrophe, disaster losses increase 34% in 2010: Swiss Re

Posted On: Nov. 30, 2010 12:00 AM CST

Swiss Reinsurance Co. said insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters so far in 2010 totaled $36 billion, a 34% increase on the total for 2009.

Economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2010 total an estimated $222 billion, compared with $36 billion in 2009, according to Zurich-based Swiss Re’s preliminary estimates.

According to Swiss Re’s research, natural catastrophes cost the insurance industry about $31 billion in 2010, while man-made disasters triggered claims of about $5 billion.

In the first 11 months of 2010, there were eight events that caused insured losses of more than $1 billion, Swiss Re said Tuesday.

The costliest event for insurers was the earthquake that hit Chile in February, causing an estimated $8 billion in insured losses, according to Swiss Re’s research.

The New Zealand earthquake in September cost insurers about $2.7 billion, according to Swiss Re’s estimates.

Winter storm Xynthia, which caused widespread damage across Europe in late February and early March, caused insured losses of about $2.8 billion, according to Swiss Re.

The BP P.L.C. Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in April is expected to result in insured losses of about $1 billion, according to Swiss Re, although the complexity of the claims is such that there is still considerable uncertainty about the eventual loss, Swiss Re said. Swiss Re has not included liability claims in its figures, it noted.

About 260,000 people were killed in catastrophic natural and man-made disasters in 2010, the highest number since 1976, according to Swiss Re’s study. The Haiti earthquake in January caused the largest number of fatalities, claiming more than 222,000 lives.

The heat wave in Russia during the summer claimed about 15,000 lives, while 6,255 people were killed by summer floods in China and Pakistan, according to Swiss Re.