Insurance claims hit record highs in 2011 due to natural disasters

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2011 Japan Tsunami DamageAccording to Munich Re, earthquakes and other natural disasters in 2011 led to record losses in the insurance industry, which are estimated to have reached $105 billion.

The world’s largest reinsurer said that the earthquakes in Japan, and the tsunami that followed, contributed to those totals by adding nearly 16,000 deaths and estimated $35 to $40 billion in damages to the final figures.

Munich Re added that the February quake in Christchurch, New Zealand, alone was responsible for another $13 billion in insured damages.

Together those two earthquakes caused almost half of all of the insured losses that accumulated last year as a result of natural disasters. The previous record had been set after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which reached $101 billion in insured damages.

According to the reinsurer, “Normally, it is the weather-related natural catastrophes that are the dominant loss drivers.”

Regardless of the significant payouts made by insurance companies, many people are still saying that the claims were not adequate to create an increase that would strengthen the pricing of reinsurers in comparison with their insurance company clients, since reinsurers continue to maintain a capital excess.

In 2011, all of the losses in the economy, including those that were not insured, combined for a total of $380 billion – according to Munich Re – therefore also breaking the 2005 total loss record which had been $220 billion.

The reinsurer’s data does not align entirely with that of its primary competition, Swiss Re, which published its own figures in December, as the latter’s calculations included the totals from man-made disasters, as well.

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