Insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters could total $44 billion this year, according to Swiss Re, a global wholesale reinsurer, a decrease from $81 billion last year.

Total economic losses were an estimated $130 billion, Zurich said, and 25,000 lives were lost as a result of disasters. Natural catastrophes caused an estimated $38 billion in insured losses, down from $75 billion in 2012, and man-made disasters were responsible for $6 billion, flat compared to last year.

"In many parts of the world, insurance penetration remains low,” said Kurt Karl, chief economist for Swiss Re. “Together with preventative measures, insurance can lessen the destructive impact and financial burden that large catastrophic events can have on people's lives. It can also help accelerate reconstruction efforts, as we have seen in areas where insurance penetration is higher."

In the United States, the 2013 North Atlantic hurricane season was benign, but severe thunderstorms and tornadoes brought devastation of properties and hefty losses to the insurance industry. Last year was a record-setting year in terms of the number of hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes in the United States, according to the 2013 “Natural Hazard Risk Summary and Analysis,” from CoreLogic, a residential property information, analytics and services provider.

Flooding in central and eastern Europe caused $18 billion in losses and insured losses of $4 billion in June, Swiss Re said. It was the second more expensive fresh water flood on record, Swiss Re said, trailing the 2011 Thailand flood, which caused more than $16 billion in insured claims, and was significantly higher than 2002 flood losses, which caused an adjusted $3 billion in insured losses.  

Flooding in Alberta, Canada caused $2 billion in insured losses, the highest on record in Canada for any disaster, Swiss Re said, also noting heavy rains and floods in Australia, India, China, Indonesia, Southern Africa and Argentina this year.

Severe weather, including hail and windstorms hit large areas of Europe, including Hailstorm Andreas, which cause $3 billion in insured losses in Germany and France in June, and Windstorm Christian, which later caused more than $1 billion in claims in central and northern Europe. Windstorm Xaver also cause an additional $1 billion in insured losses for the same region.

Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines had some of the strongest winds ever recorded, brought heavy rains and storm surges, and killed more than 7,000 people, making it the deadliest event of the year so far. Insured losses were low, however, attributable to low levels of insurance coverage.

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