Losses stemming from manmade and natural disasters in 2018 may not have eclipsed those seen in 2017, but the year still held its own, ranking as the fourth costliest in Swiss Re’s sigma records based on losses covered by the insurance industry. Total economic losses from disasters were estimated to be US$155 billion, down from the more than twice as much US$350 billion seen in 2017. Meanwhile, global insured losses from catastrophic events were estimated to be US$79 billion, which is higher than the annual average of the past decade.
“2018 was a significant step down, in terms of the severity of economic and insured losses, from 2017,” said Thomas Holzheu, Swiss Re’s chief economist for the Americas. “Nevertheless, it was the fourth highest year in terms of insured losses, so, in that respect, it’s an interesting year because it was not [a result of] a single or a series of mega-cat events, like we had seen in 2017 with big hurricane losses. [Rather], it was the accumulation of large catastrophes and it was a mixture of events. There were significant hurricanes, with Michael and Florence making landfall in the US, we had typhoons in the Pacific, and we had heat waves, droughts, and wildfires.”
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