From the February 2011 issue of American Agent & Broker • Subscribe!

IQ: Chile earthquake tops list of 2010 insured catastrophies

Severe weather and flooding in the U.S. resulted in several $1 billion insured loss events in 2010, in spite avoiding a hurricane landfall, according to the annual catastrophe report by global reinsurance intermediary Aon Benfield.

By far the largest insured event in 2010 was the February earthquake in Chile, causing about $8.5 billion in insured losses—more than the next two highest insured loss events combined. Windstorm Xynthia, also in February, caused $3.65 billion in insured losses and the New Zealand earthquake in September produced $3.05 billion.

Worldwide, catastrophe activity was higher than the last three years, with 314 events causing nearly $38 billion in insured loss, compared with 222 events producing $20 billion in insured losses in 2009.

Some of the worst natural catastrophes in the world in 2010 had little to no effect on insurers and reinsurers. Flooding in China and Pakistan and an earthquake in Haiti caused significant economic losses, but the insurance penetration in these areas is low. For instance, the floods in Pakistan caused $30 billion in economic losses but only $200 million in damages was insured, according to Aon Benfield.

The top 10 events of the year accounted for more than 61 percent, or $22 billion, of the total insured losses. Four of the top 10 are events in the U.S.

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