European storm was most expensive in '07, followed by British floods
The Associated Press, Dec. 28, 2007
Munich Re also warned that climate change could mean a growing number of weather-related catastrophes in coming years.
"The trend in respect of weather extremes shows that climate change is already taking effect and that more such extremes are to be expected in the future," board member Torsten Jeworrek said in a statement. "We should not be misled by the absence of megacatastrophes in 2007."
While losses soared in 2007, the figure was far short of the $99 billion Munich Re recorded in 2005 -- when Hurricane Katrina slammed into
The world's second-largest reinsurer put total economic losses this year -- which includes losses not covered by insurance -- from natural disasters at $75 billion -- a 50 percent increase from last year's $50 billion, but far below the 2005 figure of $220 billion.
The costliest disaster for insurers was a Jan. 18-19 winter storm, dubbed Kyrill in German-speaking countries, which killed 49 people, caused transportation havoc, damaged property and tore down power lines across a broad swath of northern
The storm resulted in insured losses of about $5.8 billion and total economic losses of some $10 billion, Munich Re said.
Two bouts of flooding in
Wildfires in the
This year's costliest
"The relatively low losses can be explained by the tracks of the hurricanes _ no major hurricanes reaching the
Munich Re said the year's deadliest natural disasters by far were November's tropical cyclone Sidr in
The company said that, in all, 950 natural disasters were recorded this year -- up from 850 last year, and the highest figure since the company started keeping systematic records in 1974.
"All the facts indicate that losses caused by weather-related natural catastrophes will continue to rise," Munich Re's Jeworrek said.
Jeworrek said his company was "ready to deal with this," but noted that higher insurance premiums and tax-financed infrastructure repairs would result in higher costs for society as a whole, and said that "speedy international action is needed."
Munich Re is a reinsurer, meaning it offers backup policies to companies writing primary insurance policies. Reinsurance helps spread risk so that the system can handle large losses from natural disasters.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.