A day after the Insurance Information Institute released figures declaring 2011 the costliest year for P&C insurers covering U.S. cat losses, Munich Re and I.I.I. announced global cat figures.

With $380 billion in global catastrophe losses, 2011 easily surpassed 2005’s previous record high of $220 billion. $105 billion of the 2011 losses were insured.

While 90 percent of the year’s 820 loss-relevant natural events were weather-related—all of which is on par with recent averages—earthquakes piled up staggering losses, particularly in Asia. Accounting for two-thirds of the $380 billion in losses were earthquakes in Japan in March and in New Zealand in February.

Japan’s Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March, excluding the consequences of “nuclear accidents” occurring thereafter, incited economic losses of $210 billion, which makes it the costliest natural catastrophe of all time, according to Munich Re.

In the United States, an increase in tropical storm activity luckily saw landfalls on par with recent years. Three named storms made landfall, with Irene being the only one to reach hurricane status. As was the case on the global stage, however, there was an unexpected player upping the cat loss ante in the United States: tornadoes.

While Hurricane Irene incurred $10 billion in economic losses, according to Munich Re, a spate of tornado-inducing storms caused $46 billion in economic losses, $25 billion of which was insured. The United States suffered 748 tornadoes in April, the most EF5 tornadoes ever in a single year (six), outbreaks in Alabama and Joplin, Mo., that each caused insured losses in excess of $6 billion, and six total tornado outbreaks that caused at least a $1 billion in insured loss.

More quick facts from I.I.I. and Munich Re:

* 2011 saw most tornado related fatalities (552) since 1925.

* 226 tornadoes in the U.S. on a single day, April 27.

* In April, record flooding of lower Mississippi river cause $2B in economic losses.

* $75B in economic losses; $35B in insured property losses in U.S. in 2011.

* 27,000 cat-related fatalities worldwide in 2011, as compared to 296,000 in 2010 (primarily due to Haiti earthquake).

* Record $105bn insured losses due to nat cats worldwide in 2011—47 percent of losses due to earthquakes.

* Record number of federal disaster declarations in 2011: 99—shattering 2010 record.

* 66 percent of insured losses were from US, only 13 percent from Asia.


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