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‘Yolanda,’ other natural disasters cost $125 B in 2013 – reinsurer

Berlin – Natural disasters, led by super-typhoon Haiyan (locally named “Yolanda”) in the Philippines and flooding in Europe, cost a total of $125 billion (92 billion euros) in 2013, German reinsurance giant Munich Re estimated on Tuesday.

The figure was below the average over 10 years of $184 billion, with insured losses of $31 billion, down from the average $56 billion.

natural disasters, volcano, 2013, Manlla Bulletin

Mount Sinabung spews lava and volcanic ash as seen from Tiga Kicat, North Sumatra, Indonesia, early Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. The volcano has sporadically erupted since September, forcing thousands of people who live around it slopes to flee to safer areas. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

“Floods and hailstorms caused double-digit billion-dollar losses in central Europe, and in the Philippines one of the strongest cyclones in history, super-typhoon Haiyan, resulted in a human catastrophe with over 6,000 fatalities,” the company said in a statement.

The natural catastrophe causing the most financial damage was severe flooding in central and eastern Europe in early June, with overall losses totaling $15.2 billion, of which $3.2 billion was insured.

The most expensive single event for the insurance industry was a series of hailstorms in Germany in July with hailstones as big as tennis balls pelting cars, buildings, homes and solar installations.

Losses totalled $4.8 billion, of which $3.7 billion was insured.

The overall losses from Haiyan reached some $10 billion, equal to around five percent of the Philippines’ annual economic output.

“(But) owing to the very low insurance penetration, the insured loss will probably only be in the mid three-digit million range,” Munich Re said.

It said the 2013 typhoon season in the Pacific was above average in terms of activity, with 31 named storms.

“The destructive power of typhoons threatens coastal regions, islands and also inland regions throughout Southeast Asia. Based on a natural cycle, our analyses predict the beginning of a phase with higher typhoon activity for the coming years,” board member Ludger Arnoldussen said.

However the North Atlantic hurricane season proved remarkably quiet last year, with no hurricane-force storm hitting the US mainland.

A series of severe tornadoes ravaged the US plains, notably the state of Oklahoma in May, with losses topping out at $3.1 billion, of which $1.8 billion was insured.

Meanwhile heavy rainfall triggered flooding in the Canadian province of Alberta, at a cost of $5.7 billion with $1.6 billion insured.

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