What will 2011 bring?

Recently Swiss Re’s latest sigma study reveals figures reporting the economic losses from disasters in 2010. Worldwide, man-made and natural disasters cost $218 billion and the Insurance industry $43 billion. The $218 billion figure overshadows $68 billion reported in damages from catastrophes in 2009. Some of the more costly events to hit the world in 2010 were the earthquake in Chile, winter storm Xynthia across Europe and Russia, the floods in Australia, brutally cold winter across much of the US and of course the explosion on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.

In North America alone, there were more than $15 billion insurance losses in 2010 and this was without a major hurricane hitting the US. In fact, it was the second consecutive year a hurricane didn’t make landfall and the fifth year without a major hurricane. The last major hurricane was in 2005 when Wilma hit the Florida coast. And although we didn’t experience a major hurricane, nine of the most costly events worldwide occurred in the US. Harsh winter storms and severe weather conditions resulting in tornados, floods, wind, and hail resulted in billions of dollars worth of damage. Not to mention the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

So what will 2011 bring? Well, we have already had a very cold beginning to the year in the US and a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan. By some accounts, the Japan earthquake costs will reach as high as $35 billion. That would make it the second-costliest disaster behind Hurricane Katrina. And, that $35 billion doesn’t include the expected loss of business and production due to the now increasing levels of nuclear radiation. Will 2011 be a record year for catastrophic losses worldwide? Only Mother Nature and time will tell.