But that figure only covered about 40% of the total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters

Nepal, earthquake, nat cat

The damage bill from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters last year was $92bn, Swiss Re’s latest sigma report says, down from $113bn in 2014.

Insurers were only on the hook for about 40% – or $37bn – of the losses, however, which was well below the 10-year average annual insured loss figure of $62bn.

Globally there were 353 disaster events last year.

Of those, 198 were natural catastrophes, which is the highest number in one year, according to sigma records.

Asia experienced the highest level of losses for the third year running, according to the report. Economic losses from all events in the region were close to $38bn.

The biggest insured loss event of the year – an estimated property loss of between $2.5bn and $3.5bn – were the large explosions at the Port of Tianjin in China in August.

The earthquake in Nepal was the biggest disaster of the year globally, killing close to 9,000 people, and incurring total losses of about $6bn.

Other events causing high losses in Asia included Typhoon Goni in Japan, flooding in southern India and the explosions in Tianjin.

Swiss Re chief economist Kurt Karl said: “The earthquake in Nepal struck close to the capital Kathmandu, causing widespread devastation and losses, which were mostly uninsured. Yet again, tragedy has hit in areas where people are least able to protect themselves.”

From cold to hot

Globally the level of losses was low compared with the previous 10-year annual average. This was largely due to another benign hurricane season in the US, Swiss Re said. Last year was the 10th year in succession that no major hurricane made US landfall.

Despite the harsh winter in the US, 2015 overall was the hottest year on record.

Heatwaves claimed a number of lives all over the world, while long stretches of high temperatures and lack of rainfall caused drought and wildfires in many regions. The US had its worst year for wildfires since 1960 because of the hot, dry conditions. Other countries impacted by wildfires include Indonesia and Australia. In contrast, regions such as India and the UK experienced extreme precipitation events.

Global weather patterns deviated from climate norms in 2015, with El Niño being a contributing factor. For instance, tropical storm activity in the North Atlantic was suppressed, while it was a very active season in the Pacific.