Swiss Re sigma preliminary estimates of catastrophe losses: despite natural catastrophes, 2003 will go down as a moderate year for property insurers.

Zurich, 16 December 2003 According to Swiss Re’s preliminary estimates, 20,000 people worldwide were killed by natural and man-made catastrophes in 2003. Overall financial losses from catastrophes amounted to an estimated USD 65 billion. Property insurers across the globe had to contend with losses of some USD 17 billion.

Five insured losses in excess of one billion US dollars in North America and none in Europe or Asia this is the preliminary conclusion drawn for 2003 by Swiss Re’s sigma. Although, at USD 17 billion, losses were higher than in the previous year, 2003 is still no record year in a long-term comparison. sigma’s records indicate that there were a high number of fatalities: almost 20,000 people lost their lives in the just under 350 catastrophes registered. More than 2, 200 people perished in the earthquake in Algeria in May, while nearly 1,400 died in India’s heat wave.

In financial terms, catastrophes caused total losses of USD 65 billion. This corresponds approximately to the average reported by sigma since the high-loss years of the nineties. Typhoon Maemi, for example, battered South Korea in September with wind speeds of up to 210 km/h and floods, contributing almost USD 6 billion of damage to the total loss. The sigma statistics are based on a number of selection criteria (including a lower-loss threshold of 20 for fatalities, or USD 72 million for total losses, or USD 36 million for insured property losses), which present a picture of the losses sustained in the different regions of the world.

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