Swiss Re Gives Preliminary Catastrophe Figures For 2000

January 11, 2001

Swiss Re published the following preliminary estimates of the losses caused by natural and man-made catastrophes in the year 2000: 17,000 lives were lost, direct losses were around $38 billion, and $11 billion in insured losses.

The estimates, which will be fully fully set out in a Swiss Re Sigma report, expected in March, indicate a significant decrease last year in insured losses, which topped $31 billion in 1999, the second worst year on record.

Only one event, the Tokai floods in Japan, exceeded the $1 billion threshold, as opposed to seven in 1999. Random selection had a lot to do with it, states the report. There were no major earthquakes in populated areas in 2000 and fewer major windstorms.

In terms of insured loss 2000’s four other most costly events were: The storms and floods at the end of October in the U.K. and France (est.$725 million); last January’s snow and ice storm in the U.S. and Canada (est. $550 million), the two tornadoes that struck the Midwest in March (est.$520 million), and the October floods and landslides in the Alps in October in Italy, Switzerland and France (est.$450 million).

While losses were relatively low, Swiss Re doesn’t think it signals a change in the long term upward trend. On the contrary the report states, “It is assumed that the trend towards high losses will continue uninterrupted, particularly as many risk factors persist: higher population densities, higher concentrations of insured values, especially in endangered areas.”

A complete copy of the sigma study “Natural and man-made catastrophes 2000” may be ordered from Swiss Re by e-mail at: sigma@swissre.com.

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