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Insured losses from natural disasters hit 6-year low

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Natural disasters caused insured losses of $35 billion in 2015 compared with $40 billion in 2014, the lowest annual insured losses since 2009, according to a report released Wednesday by Aon Benfield Group Ltd.

The $35 billion loss figure is 31% below the 15-year average of $51 billion, Aon Benfield said in its annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report.

Although there were 300 natural disaster events in 2015 compared with the 15-year average of 269, those events caused economic losses of $123 billion, well below the 15-year average of $175 billion, the report said.

The most costly natural catastrophe for insurers in 2015 was a February winter storm that hit much of the eastern United States and caused insured losses of $2.1 billion.

Further severe weather in the United States in May caused insured losses of $1.4 billion, while another $1.4 billion insured U.S. loss was caused by severe weather in December.

The deadliest natural catastrophe in 2015 was the earthquake that hit Nepal in April, causing 9,120 deaths and economic losses of $8.0 billion, according to the report.

Billion-dollar disasters increased

“While a notable uptick in recorded natural disaster events did not directly translate to greater financial losses in 2015, the year was marked by 31 individual billion-dollar disasters — or 12% more than the long-term average,” said Steve Bowen, associate director and meteorologist at Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe model development team of Aon Benfield, in a statement.

“For just the fourth time since 1980, there were more than 30 such events in a year,” he said.

“Asia once again incurred the greatest overall economic losses, representing 50% of the world total and four of the five costliest events,” he said.

“Despite 32% of global economic losses occurring in the United States, it accounted for 60% of the insured loss and seven of the top 10 costliest insured events,” he added.