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U.S. insured disaster losses top $35B in 2011


(Reuters)—Insured losses on natural disasters in the United States are likely to top $35 billion in 2011, as the federal government declared three times as many major disasters as normal, the New York-based Insurance Information Institute Inc. said Friday.

The past year saw the highest-ever number of $1 billion-plus natural disasters—12 in total, according to government statistics. Among them were devastating tornadoes that struck in April and May and Hurricane Irene in August.

The industry-backed III said losses were $32.6 billion for the first nine months of the year and would probably exceed $35 billion after factoring in late-year events like the October snowstorm in the Northeast.

The federal government declared major disasters on 99 separate occasions, the institute said, topping the previous record of 81 and nearly tripling the historical average of 34.

Globally, insurers lost at least $108 billion on disasters this year, reinsurer Swiss Re Ltd. has said, the second-worst year in the industry's history. Only 2005, with Hurricane Katrina and other major storms, was more costly.