ZURICH, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Natural and man-made catastrophes cost insurers an estimated $31 billion in the first half of 2016, a rise of 51 percent, although they claimed only half as many lives, Swiss Re said on Thursday.
Insurers covered a much higher proportion of the total $71 billion in disaster losses than in previous years, preliminary data from Swiss Re’s regular “sigma” survey showed, as catastrophes struck in regions including Europe, Canada and the United States with high insurance penetration.
The costs borne by insurers for disasters ranging from U.S. thunderstorms to Japanese earthquakes stood just above the ten-year average of $30 billion for the half year, despite total economic losses from natural and manmade catastrophes falling well below the $110 billion average.
The world’s second-largest reinsurer estimated 6,000 people lost their lives during these disasters.
While rising catastrophe costs can often move reinsurance prices upwards, Swiss Re’s chief financial officer said in July the half year’s losses were not immediately expected to have a significant impact given the fierce competition in the industry. (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)