Posts Tagged ‘Catastrophes’

2008 Was the Second Worst Year for Catastrophes

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

According to research soon to be published by my former employer, the Swiss Reinsurance Company, 2008 was the second worst year for catastrophes since 1970. Only 2005, the year in which Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, was worse. Once again, the United States had the dubious distinction of being the site of four of the six costliest catastrophes in 2008.

Largest Insured Losses in 2008

Largest Insured Losses in 2008

Again, we see a divergence between the levels of insured losses and the numbers of human casualties, with countries in the developing world suffering greatly. 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 $50 billion in 2008, making it the second costliest year in insurance history. Of that sum, natural catastrophes accounted for $43 billion. However, the $50 billion in insured losses represents but a fraction of the total loss of $225 billion that catastrophes cost society in 2008, most of which was uninsured.