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Disasters set insurance record

Devastating earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand made 2011 the insurance industry's costliest yet in natural disaster losses.

Re-insurer Munich Re said in an annual report that insured losses last year totalled 105 billion dollars (£67 billion) - exceeding the previous record of 101 billion dollars (£64.5 billion) set in 2005, when losses were swollen by claims from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

The company said the total economic cost last year from natural disasters - including uninsured losses - totalled about $380 billion dollars (£243 billion).

Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March caused insured losses of up to 40 billion dollars (£25.5 billion). The second most costly disaster for insurers, at 13 billion dollars (£8.3 billion) was the February quake that hit the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

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