Friday, December 19, 2008

Preliminary Swiss Re sigma estimates that over 238 000 people were killed by catastrophes in 2008, insured losses soar to USD 50 billion.

Swiss Re (one of my former employers): According to initial estimates from the forthcoming Swiss Re sigma study on catastrophes, more than 238 000 people lost their lives to natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2008 – the fourth largest number of deaths since 1970. While the total cost to society was USD 225 billion, USD 50 billion was covered by property insurance, making 2008 the second costliest year ever in terms of insured losses.

In 2008, large loss events tragically claimed over 238 000 lives. In early May, tropical cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar, killing 138 400 people, setting off one of the largest humanitarian crises in recent memory. Later in May, a devastating earthquake measuring 7.9 on the moment magnitude scale shook China’s Sichuan region, killing 87 400 people and leaving over 10 million homeless. Most of the losses from these two events were not insured.

Catastrophes cost insurers more than USD 50 billion in 2008, making it the second costliest year in insurance history. Of the total amount, natural catastrophes accounted for USD 43 billion, with storms costing insurers USD 39 billion. Hurricanes in the US and the Caribbean triggered record losses, with Hurricane Ike resulting in claims of USD 20 billion, followed by Hurricane Gustav at USD 4 billion (insured losses include property, motor, offshore damage and flood losses covered by the NFIP). In Europe, winter storm Emma caused damages of USD 1.4 billion, which are significantly lower than those caused by last year’s winter storm Kyrill (USD 6 billion)…

Hurricane Ike flooding in Galveston, Texas

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