Natural catastrophes caused overall losses of $210 billion in 2020, up significantly from the 2019 figure of $166 billion, according to a report by Munich Re.
Of the total overall losses, $82 billion were insured, compared to $57 billion in 2019. Natural disasters in the U.S. accounted for $95 billion of the overall losses and $67 billion of insured losses, the company noted. Last year's natural disasters claimed about 8,200 lives.
Six of the 10 costliest natural disasters occurred within the U.S., with the most destructive event being Hurricane Laura. Overall losses came to $13 billion, with insured losses of $10 billion.
The U.S. landfall record of nine hurricanes also broke, with 12 tropical cyclones making landfall in one season, Munich Re said. Overall losses from the hurricane season in North America came to $43 billion, of which $26 billion were insured.
In the central U.S., one of the costliest disasters was a strong derecho which caused losses of $6.8 billion. Iowa was the hardest hit, with several million hectares of corn and soybean crops destroyed. Overall losses were $40 billion, of which $30 billion were insured.
As of the beginning of December 2020, California had recorded a total of 9,600 wildfires in the state. In total, losses from the wildfires in the western U.S. amounted to some $16 billion, of which $11 billion were insured.
In Asia, losses from natural disasters were lower than in the previous year at $67 billion, with insured losses of $3 billion.
Notably, only a small portion of losses was insured in the growing economies in Asia. The costliest natural disaster was the severe flooding in China during the summer monsoon rains. Overall losses from the floods amounted to about $17 billion, only about 2% of which was insured.
Meanwhile in Europe, the natural disaster figures for 2020 were "relatively benign," with overall losses and insured losses at $12 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively. Localized extreme losses were triggered by heavy rainfall along the Mediterranean coasts of southern France and Italy.