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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

2003 – not the worst of years?

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 $65bn (£35bn). Property insurers across the globe had to contend with losses of some $17bn.

Five insured losses in excess of $1bn in North America and none in Europe or Asia – this is the preliminary conclusion drawn for 2003 by Swiss Re’s latest sigma. Although, at $17bn, 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 heatwave.

Also new on the Swiss Re website is sigma research showing that, while financial market turbulence continued to plague the insurance markets in 2002, some signs of recovery were evident in the most important markets: the non-life insurance sector grew at a record-breaking rate, and the life sector posted minor improvement. Visit www.swissre.com.