From the Kyushu Island earthquake to the Yangtze River basin flooding, Asia was again the worst hit as insured losses proliferated across the globe last year.


A year marred by a flurry of natural catastrophes and man-made disasters has seen global insured losses from disaster events soar by 42% year-on-year in 2016.

According to the latest Swiss Re Institute sigma, total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters amounted to $175bn in 2016, almost twice the $94bn seen in 2015.

Global insured losses from disasters were $54bn in 2016, up from $38bn in the previous year.

The losses in 2016 – both economic and insured – were the highest since 2012 and reversed the downtrend of the last four years.

Last year was a period which witnessed a high number of sizable disaster events, including earthquakes, storms, floods and wildfires across the globe.

Globally there were 327 disaster events in 2016, of which 191 were natural catastrophes and 136 were man-made.

As in the previous four years, Asia was worst hit in terms of the number of disaster events with 128 and resulting economic losses which sat at approximately $60bn.

The earthquake on Kyushu Island, Japan in April inflicted the heaviest economic losses, estimated to be between $25bn and $30bn.

There were also several severe flooding events in 2016. In China, there was extensive flooding along the Yangtze River basin in July.

The economic losses were estimated to be $22bn, making it the costliest Yangtze River flood event since 1998.

“In 2016, both economic and insured losses were close to their 10-year averages,” says Kurt Karl, chief economist, Swiss Re.

“Insured losses made up about 30% of total losses, with some areas faring much better because of higher insurance penetration.”