According to preliminary sigma estimates released by Swiss Re, total insured losses for the global insurance industry from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters reached an estimated $70 billion in the first half of 2011. This is more than double the figure of $29 billion for the first six months of 2010. Claims from natural catastrophes alone reached $67 billion in the first half of 2011, compared to $27 billion in the same period of last year.
Total economic losses to the society (insured and uninsured) for the first half year’s disasters were almost $278 billion. Approximately 26,000 people lost their lives in catastrophes in the first six months of 2011, most of them in Japan.
With more than $70 billion in insured catastrophe losses in the first half year alone, 2011 already ranks as the second most expensive year according to sigma records. This figure was only surpassed in 2005 when total catastrophe claims amounted to $120 billion, with hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita causing claims of over $90 billion.
Thomas Hess, Swiss Re’s Chief Economist, says: “Given the many people who died in Japan and the sad experiences in New Zealand, 2011 will certainly go down as another year of very tragic earthquakes. In terms of catastrophe claims, 2011 is already the second costliest year in history for the insurance industry. Additional claims from the ongoing US hurricane season or expensive winter storms in Europe have the potential to bring figures for the full year even closer to the record claims of $120 billion experienced in 2005.“