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Well it is about time!  For the first time in two decades, the world’s costliest natural disasters in 2013 were not in the US! Munich Re, one of the world’s leading reinsurers reported that last year, the most expensive weather disasters were in Europe, which included floods in central Europe and hailstorms in Germany.

I feel badly for those countries but it is better to share that coveted reputation rather that hog it!


The USA’s relatively quiet year was due primarily to the lack of landfalling hurricanes, which typically contribute a large portion of the natural catastrophe losses. The North Atlantic had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982.

The USA had $12.8 billion in insured losses in 2013, far below the recent average of $30 billion per year. The costliest disaster was the tornado outbreak in the central U.S. in May. The loss resulting from the outbreak as a whole amounted to $3.1 billion, of which $1.8 billion was insured. Worldwide, the direct overall losses of about $125 billion and insured losses of about $31 billion remained below the average figures of the past 10 years ($184 billion and $56 billion).

The world’s deadliest disaster in 2013 was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines and killed more than 6,000 people. The storm did $10 billion in damage, of which only about $700 million was insured.

Overall, 20,000 people died in natural catastrophes in 2013, significantly below the 10-year average of 106,000.

The German hailstorm in late July — in which some of the hailstones were bigger than tennis balls — was the insurance industry’s most expensive hail event in German history. Overall, the loss from heavy hailstorms in both July and August in Germany totaled around $5.2 billion, of which $4.1 billion was insured.

Reinsurers such as Munich Re offer backup policies to companies writing primary insurance policies. Reinsurance helps spread risk, so the system can handle large losses from natural disasters.