Catastrophe Costs Will Set Record: Munich Re

July 12, 2011

The total costs associated with natural catastrophes will reach a record this year after an earthquake in Japan pushed first-half losses to $265 billion, according to Munich Re.

The world’s biggest reinsurer by revenue said on Tuesday that the earthquake — which hit Japan with a magnitude of 9.0 in March — was the most expensive natural catastrophe on record in terms of economic losses.

It cost about $210 billion, more than the $125 billion of economic losses caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and killed at least 15,500 people.

However, in terms of insured losses of about $30 billion, the Japanese earthquake remained below the level of Katrina.

Overall insured losses from catastrophes in the first half of this year — those losses which insurers and reinsurers will have to cover — were $60 billion, almost five times the first-half average since 2001.

Munich Re competes with Swiss Re and Hannover Re of Germany.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan

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