Natural catastrophe losses in 2014 were much lower than in previous years, according to reinsurer Munich Re but it warned that things could change in 2015.
Munich Re said overall losses from natural catastrophe totalled $110bn, down from $140bn in the previous year. Of this, $31bn was insured, down from $39bn in 2013.
Loss amounts were well below the inflation-adjusted average values of the past ten years (overall losses: $190bn, insured losses $58bn), and also below the average values of the past 30 years ($130bn/$33bn), the firm said.
This was because of the absence of very severe catastrophes and a quiet hurricane season in the North Atlantic.
The firm also said fewer people were killed in natural catastrophes in 2014, compared the previous year. In 2014, there were 7,700 fatalities, compared to 21,000 in 2013 and it was below the average of the past 10 and 30 years (97,000 and 56,000) respectively.
'The lower losses in 2014 should not give us a false sense of security, because the risk situation overall has not changed,' Munich Re Board member Torsten Jeworrek said.
'There is no reason to expect a similarly moderate course in 2015. It is, however, impossible to predict what will happen in any individual year.'
The costliest natural catastrophe for the insurance industry was a winter storm with heavy snowfalls in Japan, which caused insured losses of $3.1bn. However, losses there remained small due to the high building and infrastructure standards in place, the reinsurer said.
The costliest natural catastrophe of the year was Cyclone Hudhud in India, with an overall loss of $7bn, it added.
More than nine out of ten (92%) of the loss-related natural catastrophes were because of weather events, Munich Re stated. It said a striking feature was the 'unusually quiet' hurricane season in the North Atlantic, where only eight strong storms formed.
One storm in the eastern Pacific, Hurricane Odile, moved across the Baja California peninsula in a northerly direction and caused a loss of $2.5bn, of which $1.2bn was insured, in Mexico and southern states in the US.
Europe saw a very costly hailstorm in 2014, just as in the previous year. In June, France, Belgium and the western part of Germany, suffered with high wind speeds along with hailstones. The overall loss totalled $3.5bn (2.5bn), of which $2.8bn (2bn) was insured. In Germany, this hail storm caused losses of $1.2bn (880m) and insured losses of $890m (650m).