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2011 saw record $105B in insured catastrophe losses: Munich Re

2011 saw record $105B in insured catastrophe losses: Munich Re

MUNICH—2011 was the costliest year on record for insured natural catastrophe losses, according to analysis by Munich Reinsurance Co.

Insured losses from natural catastrophes totaled about $105 billion, surpassing the previous record of $101 billion in 2005, Munich Re said Wednesday.

Earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand accounted for about two-thirds of the total losses last year, Munich Re said.

Insured losses from the Japan earthquake and tsunami could reach $40 billion, Munich Re said, while insured losses from the Christchurch, New Zealand, quake were about $13 billion.

Ninety percent of the 820 natural catastrophe loss events recorded in 2011 were weather related, but about half of the insured losses stemmed from geophysical events including large earthquakes, it said.

“Even if it seems hard to believe given recent events, the probability of earthquakes has not increased,” Peter Höppe, head of Munich Re's geo risks research unit, said in a statement.

“However, these severe earthquakes are timely reminders that the decisions on where to build towns need careful and serious consideration of these risks, especially where certain buildings are concerned,” particularly if they are nuclear power plants, he said.

Flooding in Thailand, which caused about $10 billion in insured losses, was by far the costliest natural disaster in that country's history, Munich Re said.

About 25% of the world's supply of components for computer hard drives was affected by the floods in Thailand, Munich Re said.

While parts of the United States experienced several destructive tornadoes last year, which resulted in insured losses of about $25 billion, the hurricane season was relatively light, according to Munich Re's report. Only Hurricane Irene made landfall in the United States, resulting in about $7 billion in insured losses, the report said.

Global economic losses from natural catastrophes totaled about $380 billion, according to Munich Re. About 70% of those economic losses occurred in Asia, the research found.

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