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Global economic, insured losses fall in H1: Swiss Re Institute

Global economic losses and insured losses fell in the first half, according to Swiss Re Institute's preliminary sigma estimates.

Global economic losses from natural catastrophes and disasters caused by human activity amounted to $44 billion, compared to the $109 billion first-half average of the previous 10 years and $51 billion in the first half of 2018.

Losses from natural catastrophes reached $40 billion in the first half, compared with $45 billion in the year-earlier period. The remaining $4 billion of losses were due to disasters caused by human activity.

Global insured losses from natural catastrophes fell to $15 billion from $21 billion the year before, while insured losses from human-caused disasters decreased to $4 billion from $5 billion.

Only about 42% of the global economic losses were insured, compared with 52% in the first half of 2018, as several large-scale disaster events, such as Cyclone Idai in southern Africa and Cyclone Fani in India, occurred in areas with low insurance penetration.

Secondary perils such as thunderstorms, torrential rains and snowmelt caused the highest losses through wind and water damage in the first half in many regions of the world, including the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, China and Iran. Swiss Re Institute pegged the total economic losses of these events at $32 billion. Approximately $13 billion of these losses were insured.

As in the first half of 2018, several parts of the world also experienced heatwaves and dry weather conditions in 2019, with temperature records broken in several locations, particularly in Europe. The full impact of the summer weather has yet to be determined.