Total economic losses from natural and man-made disasters rose sharply in 2017 partly due to hurricanes and wildfires, Swiss Re AG said Wednesday, with insured losses for the industry more than doubling.
Swiss Re estimates that total economic losses reached $306 billion in 2017, a 63% increase over 2016, based on Swiss Re's preliminary data. Global insured losses from catastrophes in 2017 are estimated to be $136 billion, the company says, the third-highest on the company's records. The 2017 figure compares with $65 billion the prior year and is well above the ten-year average of $58 billion.
“In recent years, annual insurance losses from disaster events have exceeded USD 100 billion a few times,” commented Martin Bertogg, Head of Catastrophe Perils at Swiss Re. “The insurance industry has demonstrated that it can cope very well with such high losses. However, significant protection gaps remain and if the industry is able to extend its reach, many more people and businesses can become better equipped to withstand the fallout from disaster events.”
Swiss Re cites extreme weather in the U.S. during the second half of the year as the main cause of the increase, noting that disaster losses in the first half were below the same period of 2016 and below the six-month average for the previous ten years.
“The accumulation of economic and insured losses ramped up in the second half of the year, due primarily to the three hurricanes – Harvey, Irma and Maria – that hit the U.S. and the Caribbean, and wildfires in California,” Swiss Re said.
More than 11,000 people had died or gone missing in disaster events this year, the world’s second-biggest reinsurer said.
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