Though there were only 750 loss-producing events in 2008 compared with 960 in 2007, it was still the third most expensive year for insurers on record, according to Munich Re. The costs are attributed to a large number of tropical cyclones and the earthquake in Sichuan, China.

o 2008 insured losses were 50 percent higher than 2007 at $45 billion. Overall losses rose to $200 billion from $85 billion in 2007.

o More than 220,000 people were killed as a result of natural catastrophe; Asia lost 205,000 lives to cyclones and earthquakes.

o Hurricane Ike was the most expensive event, with $15 billion in insurance losses.

o The number of North Atlantic tropical cyclones was higher than the long-term average.

o Sixteen tropical cyclones were counted in 2008. The average for the warm phase is 14.7. Eight reached hurricane strength; five were Category 3 or higher.

o 2008 is the fourth most severe hurricane season recorded.

o The U.S. tornado season produced roughly 1,700 twisters, causing an aggregate loss of several billion dollars.