Disasters Cost Insurers $43 Billion in 2010: Swiss Re

March 29, 2011

Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters cost the insurance industry $43 billion in 2010, Swiss Re, the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, said on Tuesday, revising up an earlier estimate.

Swiss Re also revised down its estimate of worldwide economic losses from 2010 disasters to $218 billion from a November estimate of $222 billion, still more than triple the 2009 figure of $68 billion.

In November, Swiss Re predicted a total cost to insurers of $36 billion from 2010 disasters.

Its new study showed natural catastrophes cost the industry about $40 billion in 2010, while man-made disasters triggered claims of more than $3 billion, compared to overall insured losses in 2009 of $27 billion.

“Insured losses were highest in North America in 2010, where they exceeded $15 billion,” said Lucia Bevere, one of the study’s authors. “Despite very low hurricane losses due to the absence of hurricanes making direct landfall in the U.S., a series of lesser storms throughout the year resulted in this high figure.”

Swiss Re said the 2010 earthquakes in Chile and New Zealand were the two costliest events, leading to insured losses estimated at $8 billion and 4.4 billion respectively.

Swiss Re also reiterated that earthquake losses for 2011 would be above average due to the Japan disaster and also the February earthquake in New Zealand which it estimates to produced total insured claims of $6-$12 billion.

Swiss Re estimated last week it would face $1.2 billion in claims from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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