Storms and floods in Europe along with super typhoon Haiyan dominated the overall picture of natural catastrophes in 2013, but globally insured losses remained below average, Munich Re said in its annual review.
The reinsurer said weather-related catastrophes in Europe and destruction in the Philippines caused 'exceptionally high losses'. It said floods and hailstorms caused 'double-digit billion-dollar losses' in central Europe. And in the Philippines, Haiyan - which struck in November - was one of the strongest cyclones in history resulting in over 6,000 fatalities.
However, at around $31bn, insured losses for 2013 remained below the average of $56bn for the past ten years. Overall losses resulting from natural catastrophes in 2013 were 'moderate' at $125bn, Munich Re said. Both figures are less than those seen in 2012 when insured losses reached $65bn and overall losses stood at $173bn.
Torsten Jeworrek, Munich Re board member responsible for global reinsurance business, said: 'Several of the events of 2013 illustrated how well warnings and loss minimisation measures can restrict the impact of natural catastrophes. In the case of the most recent winter storms in Europe, for example, the losses remained comparatively low.
'At the same time, events like those in the Philippines show the urgent need for more to be done in developing and emerging countries to protect people better. This includes stable buildings and protection facilities, and insurance programmes - also with state backing - to provide those affected with financial assistance after a disaster.'
The most expensive event for the insurance industry in 2013 was the hailstorms that hit regions in northern and southwestern Germany between 27 and 28 July. The firm noted that it was the most costly hail event in the country's history. Insurance losses from heavy hailstorms in July and August in Germany totalled $4.1bn, with an economic loss of $5.2bn. The hailstorms in late July, the firm said, alone accounted for $3.7bn of insured losses, with an economic loss of $4.8bn.
Canada was also hit by severe natural catastrophes in 2013, mainly heavy rainfall of up to 190 litres per square metre, which fell in the province of Alberta. This lead to record flooding on the rivers flowing through the province's capital of Calgary, which amounted to insured losses of $1.6bn and economic losses of $5.7bn, making it the costliest natural catastrophe in Canada ever, Munich Re said.
By contrast, the North Atlantic hurricane season was very quiet, the reinsurer said. 'Not a single storm, of hurricane strength reach the US mainland. Altogether, a total of 13 cyclones formed in the tropical North Atlantic, of which only two achieved hurricane force and those only in category one, the weakest rating for a hurricane,' the German firm added.