While 2009 wasn't the best year for insurers due to the soft market and other negative factors, they can take solace in the fact that it was positive in terms of low catastrophe losses when compared to previous years.

Last year, natural catastrophes and man-made disasters claimed approximately 15,000 lives, and cost insurers $26 billion, according to a new sigma study from Swiss Re released today. The total cost to society as a result of the 133 natural catastrophes and 155 man-made disasters was $62 billion. A calm U.S. hurricane season also helped keep costs down since insured losses were below average.

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