Insured losses $22bn so far this year, says Munich Re

Natural catastrophes cost insurers $22bn in the first half of this year, more than double the first-half average since 2000 and breaking the previous record set in 2008, said Munich Re.

The reinsurer recorded 440 events in the first half, the second highest figure for the period since 2000, resulting in total overall losses of $70bn – already more than for the whole of 2009 and well above the first-half average for the past 10 years.

The period was marked by three events that Munch Re classifies as “great” ¬– causing billions of dollars in losses or several thousand fatalities.

The earthquake in Haiti on 12 January killed 223,000 people – one of the highest death tolls on record, according to Munich Re. While overall losses were large relative to the country’s economic strength, insured losses were only $150m because of low insurance penetration.

The 27 February Chile earthquake, on the other hand, was the second most expensive on record, costing insurers $8bn despite a far lower death toll of 521.

The third “great” catastrophe in the first half of the year was the April earthquake in China, which claimed 2,700 lives.

Adding to the first half’s 55 geophysical events were 385 weather-related natural catastrophes. The costliest of these, said Munich Re, was winter storm Xynthia, which caused total losses of $4.5bn and an insurance bill of $3.4bn.