• Germany's news in English
 

2012 natural disasters cost €122 billion

Published: 03 Jan 2013 13:07 GMT+01:00

"Last year, natural catastrophes caused $160 billion in overall losses and $65 billion in insured losses worldwide," Munich Re said in a statement.

About 67 percent of overall losses and 90 percent of insured losses were attributable to the United States, with the year's highest insured loss caused by hurricane Sandy, with an estimated amount of around $25 billion, the reinsurer said.

In addition, the US was also hit by severe droughts, as well as tornadoes, it added.

Overall, global losses were significantly lower in 2012 than in the previous year, when record figures were posted due to the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand and severe floods in Thailand, Munich Re continued.

In 2011, overall losses came to $400 billion and insured losses to $119 billion.

In terms of fatalities, about 9,500 people lost their lives in natural catastrophes last year compared with 27,200 in 2011 and a 10-year average of 106,000.

"The relatively small number of fatalities was due to the fact that, in 2012, few severe natural catastrophes occurred in emerging and developing countries, where natural catastrophes tend to have far more devastating consequences in terms of human lives," Munich Re explained.

Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the east coast of the US on October 29.

While at that point, its maximum wind speeds were no more than 150 kilometres (94 miles) per hour, "it was an exceptionally wide storm, measuring 1,800 kilometres in diameter – one-and-a-half times as big as Texas – so that the losses extended over a vast area," Munich Re said.

The second major loss event of 2012 was the summer-long drought in the US that plagued the Corn Belt in the midwest, where most of the US's main agricultural crops, corn and soybean, are grown, Munich Re said.

Nearly half of US arable acreage was hit and overall agricultural crop losses in the US in 2012 totalled around $20 billion, "making it the biggest loss in US agricultural insurance history."

In average years, insured losses are around $9.0 billion.

The head of Munich Re's Geo Risks Research, Peter Hoeppe, said Hurricane Sandy and the drought "clearly demonstrate the type of events we can expect to contend with more often in the future."

It was not possible to attribute individual events to climate change, he noted.

"However, numerous studies assume a rise in summer drought periods in North America in the future and an increasing probability of severe cyclones relatively far north along the US East Coast in the long term."

The rise in sea level caused by climate change would further increase the risk of storm surge.

Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek said that the heavy losses caused by weather-related natural catastrophes in the US showed that greater loss-prevention efforts were needed.

"It would certainly be possible to protect conurbations like New York better from the effects of storm surges. Such action would make economic sense and insurers could also reflect the reduced exposure in their pricing," Jeworrek said.

AFP/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

07:03 January 4, 2013 by anaverageguy
"However, numerous studies assume a rise in summer drought periods in North America in the future and an increasing probability of severe cyclones relatively far north along the US East Coast in the long term."

Numerous studies "assume"? How very scientific.

You know, you can look at a snapshot of me now.... and I hardly look anything like I did then..... it doesn't mean anything unnatural is happening.
Today's headlines
Germanwings tragedy
Germany learns lessons on pilots’ mental health
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt (left) and aviation safety task force leader Matthias von Randow. Photo: DPA:

Germany learns lessons on pilots’ mental health

In response to the Germanwings flight tragedy, Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt presented plans to strengthen mental health care for pilots while Germanwings announced further compensation for relatives of the flight's victims. READ  

Germany: land of cheap beer and drunkards?
Getting müllered? Football star Thomas Müller enjoys a Mass. Photo: DPA

Germany: land of cheap beer and drunkards?

It's official. If getting drunk on a park bench is your thing, look no further than Germany as an ideal location. A study released on Monday shows it's cheap. And you'll have plenty of company. READ  

Greece crisis
Schäuble: Greece will stay in Euro regardless
People demonstrate in favour of a 'no' vote in Greece's Sunday referendum on Monday night. Photo: DPA

Schäuble: Greece will stay in Euro regardless

UPDATE: Speaking to MPs from his Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on Tuesday, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said that Greece will stay in the eurozone even if the Greek public vote 'no' on July 5th. READ  

Fare-dodging fine jumps from €40 to €60
Photo: DPA.

Fare-dodging fine jumps from €40 to €60

Nationwide fines for people who ride public transit without a proper ticket will increase from €40 to €60 starting on Wednesday in some cities, the first time the penalty has been increased in 12 years. READ  

Far-right attacks on asylum homes soar
A sign reading "stop Nazis" hangs from a lamppost. Photo: DPA

Far-right attacks on asylum homes soar

The number of attacks on asylum seekers' accommodation by violent far-right groups in Germany is on course to double in 2015 after tripling between 2013 and 2014, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday. READ  

How Germany will deal with the leap second
A scientist works with an atomic clock at the Federal Physics-Technology Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig. Photo: DPA

How Germany will deal with the leap second

Germany's top time scientists are ready to spring into action in the dead of night on Tuesday, inserting an extra second into the clock while everyone else is asleep. READ  

German unemployment hits historic low
Photo: DPA

German unemployment hits historic low

German unemployment remained at historically low levels in June as the recovery in Europe's biggest economy remained on track, data showed on Tuesday. READ  

Greece crisis
Germany's Greeks look anxiously homeward
Antonius Chantzaras in his kiosk. Photo: DPA

Germany's Greeks look anxiously homeward

As crisis engulfs their homeland, members of the Greek community in Germany look anxiously homeward and reflect on how the crisis is already traveling back to Germany. READ  

Women's World Cup
Semi-final clash with US 'like a final'
Germany coach Silvia Neid. Photo: DPA

Semi-final clash with US 'like a final'

Ahead of Tuesday's semi-final clash against the Unites States in the Women's World Cup, Germany coach Silvia Neid warned that her team would not be relinquishing their status as the world's number one team yet. READ  

Germanwings co-pilot buried in silence
A man walks past a makeshift memorial to the Germanwings flight 4U9525 victims in Düsseldorf airport. Photo: DPA

Germanwings co-pilot buried in silence

As the co-pilot who steered Germanwings flight 4U9525 into the French Alps in March was buried on Monday, the authorities prepared to unveil the first steps they will take to improve air safety. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
Politics
Follow our LIVE blog as Europe holds breath over Greece crisis
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
Culture
What's top of the charts in June
Gallery
Germany's most beautiful cycle routes
Business & Money
The business case for Britain in the EU
Rhineland
Why farmers are free to pong up the countryside
National
German restaurants among world's best
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,790
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd