From earthquakes in Japan to wildfires in Canada, disasters cost the world economy $71-billion (R948-billion) in the first half of the year, Swiss Re said yesterday.
That marked a 38% increase compared with the same period a year ago, the world’s No 2 reinsurer said.
Only $3-billion (R40-billion) was attributed to manmade events, with the rest due to natural disasters.
The human cost of disasters was far lower, with some 6 000 people dying in catastrophic events in the first half of this year, compared with 12 000 during the first six months of last year.
The global insurance industry covered 44% of the disaster-linked losses, or $31-billion (R413.9-billion), up 51% from a year earlier.
Devastating storms in the US and Europe were the costliest events for insurers during the January to June period, Swiss Re said.
Three separate severe US weather events cost insurers more than $7-billion (R93.4billion), it said.
Europe was also slammed by heavy storms at the end of May and in early June, when France and Germany especially were hit with severe lightning storms and flash floods.
The total insured losses from those storms and floods in Europe were $2.8billion (R37.4-billion).
The deadly earthquakes that hit Japan’s southern Kumamoto prefecture in April, killing 64 people, raked up insurance costs of $5.6-billion (R74.9-billion).
A 7.3-magnitude earthquake in Ecuador that destroyed bridges and buildings and killed 668 people was the deadliest single event during the first half of the year, but low insurance coverage meant the insured losses amounted only to $400-million (R5.3-billion).
Devastating wildfires in Alberta, Canada, resulted in insured losses of $2.5-billion (R33.4-billion), one of the costliest wildfire events in the insurance industry history, Swiss Re said.