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Natural, man-made disasters in 2012 cost $140bn: report

December 19, 2012

Governor Chris Christie (L) and Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson survey the superstorm Sandy damaged areas between the ocean and Rt 35 in Bayhead, New Jersey in this Nov 2, 2012 handout photo. - Reuters Photo

ZURICH: Natural and man-made disasters around the world this year, including Superstorm Sandy, will cost at least $140 billion (106 billion euros), according to a study published by Swiss insurance group Swiss Re Wednesday.

The insurance industry will cover about $65 billion of all losses from such catastrophes, the study showed, ticking in above the average for the past 10 years.

It nevertheless marked a significant drop from 2011, when massive earthquakes and flooding forced insurers to dish out more than $120 billion to cover disaster-related losses.

Natural catastrophes alone this year will lead to more than 11,000 deaths and $60 billion in insured claims, Swiss Re said in a statement.

But after two years when natural disasters such as the devastating Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods were largely concentrated in Asia Pacific and South America, “2012 is dominated by large, weather-related losses in the US,” it added.

The “top-five insured loss events” had all happened in the United States, it pointed out. They included Hurricane Sandy which wreaked havoc across the east coast of the country, as well as in the Caribbean and the Bahamas at the end of October.

“Estimates for the insured cost of the devastation are between $20 and $25 billion,” it said, though “it is still too soon to gauge the final overall damage.”

In addition, extremely dry weather conditions in the United States had led to “one of the worst droughts in recent decades, affecting more than half of the country,” the study showed. Drought-related agricultural losses there were expected to well to $11 billion, it added.