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Natural disasters mean most expensive year ever for insurance damages

Earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand contributed to almost €300billion in overall economic losses from natural disasters.

Fishermen's overalls hang in an area destroyed by the Japanese earthquake.
Fishermen's overalls hang in an area destroyed by the Japanese earthquake.
Image: Junji Kurokawa/AP/Press Association Images

EARTHQUAKES IN JAPAN and New Zealand made 2011 the most expensive year ever for the insurance industry in natural disaster losses, according to a leading ‘re-insurance’ firm

In its annual report, Munich Re said insured losses last year came to €80billion. The previous record was €78billion in 2005, when losses were swollen by claims from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

The company said the total economic cost last year from natural disasters – including uninsured losses – totaled about €292billion. That was far above the 2005 record of €170billion.

Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in March caused insured losses of up to €31billion. The second most costly disaster for insurers, at €10billion, was the February quake that hit the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

A re-insurance firm is one which provides insurance to insurance firms, thereby reducing their exposure to risk.

Meanwhile, the Irish Insurance Federation said it expects to know in the next few weeks what last year’s floods in Dublin cost the economy and insurance industry.

- Additional reporting by Michael Freeman

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