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If one could use only a single word to sum up 2011, “catastrophes” best captures what this year was all about.

January started on a soggy note with large pockets of Australia under water, as floods caused insured losses of up to $3 billion. Just the next month, the Southern Hemisphere suffered again, as New Zealand saw a 6.3 earthquake that toppled buildings in Christchurch and led to claims north of $10 billion (part of a nightmarish, 12-month stretch where Kiwis experienced multiple quakes, including one in September of 2010 and another one in June of this year).

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