Belfast Telegraph

Natural disasters cause record £99.6 billion insurance industry bill

Taking uninsured losses into account, the overall number hit 330 billion US dollars (£243 billion).

A devastating trio of hurricanes left the global insurance industry footing a record bill of 135 billion US dollars (£99.6 billion) last year, according to Munich Re.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, coupled with a powerful earthquake in Mexico, caused more than 10,000 people to lose their lives and insurance costs to hit an all-time high in 2017, the German reinsurer said.

Taking uninsured losses into account, the overall number soared to an even greater 330 billion US dollars (£243 billion) over the period.

That amount was only topped by the 354 billion US dollars (£261 billion) worth of losses recorded in 2011 when the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami wreaked havoc on Japan.

Torsten Jeworrek, Munich Re board member, said: “This year’s extreme natural catastrophes show how important insurance is in absorbing financial losses in the wake of such disasters.

“For me, a key point is that some of the catastrophic events, such as the series of three extremely damaging hurricanes, or the very severe flooding in South Asia after extraordinarily heavy monsoon rains, are giving us a foretaste of what is to come.

“Because even though individual events cannot be directly traced to climate change, our experts expect such extreme weather to occur more often in future.”

Munich Re, which employs around 43,000 people worldwide, said its statistics pinpointed 710 natural disasters throughout 2017, up from an average rate of 605.

It said the US took an even greater share of the losses at 50%, compared with previous levels of around 32%, while European farmers endured a hefty hit after an unexpected temperature drop in April took its toll on crops.

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.