Giant hailstones and hurricanes: Losses from natural disasters and man-made catastrophes reach highest since 2012 says Swiss Re study

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Hurricane Matthew Bears Down On Atlantic Coast
Hurricane Matthew caused massive destruction in Haiti (Source: Getty)

The cost of major disasters to the world reached the highest level since 2012 last year, almost doubling the damage sustained in the previous year.

Natural disasters and man-made destruction cost the world $175bn (£139bn) in 2016, according to reinsurance giant Swiss Re. This was 85 per cent higher than 2015 damage as the toll from natural disasters more than doubled.

Global insured losses jumped back to average levels at just below a third of total damage, at $54bn. This meant the gap between losses and the amount insured (known as the protection gap) was $121bn.

Read more: Earth, wind and fire: Insurers fork out tens of billions in 2016

Man-made disasters were responsible for some $8bn of the losses, a 28 per cent fall from 2015.

North America was responsible for more than half of the insured losses, with a high take-up of insurance and multiple severe storms during the year.

The costliest individual storm was an unlikely hailstorm in Texas, which caused $3.5bn of damage as tennis ball-sized blocks of ice damaged homes and cars.

Some of the biggest damage was wrought by earthquakes around the world, including in Japan, Ecuador, Tanzania, Italy and New Zealand.

Read more: Why the UK's weather in April was better than you thought

Meanwhile the Canadian wildfires in Saskatchewan province caused the biggest insurance losses ever for the country, after multiple oil sands production facilities were destroyed or had to be stop working for months.

The death toll for disaster events reached 11,000, Swiss Re estimates, including 700 people killed mainly in poverty-stricken Haiti by Hurricane Matthew.

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