Photographer: AFP via Getty Images

Natural Catastrophe Costs Hit 6-Year Low of $90 Billion in 2015

  • Deaths from natural disasters triple from year earlier
  • La Nina may cause more storms this year after mild winter

Costs from natural catastrophes fell last year to the lowest level since 2009 as the weather effect known as El Nino reduced heavy storms in the North Atlantic, according to Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer.

Global losses declined to $90 billion from $110 billion a year earlier, the company said in a statement from Munich on Monday. Insured losses slipped to $27 billion from $31 billion over the period.

Reinsurers, which help primary insurers shoulder risks, have seen earnings squeezed by record-low interest rates and declining prices, partly because of lower losses from natural disasters. While El Nino cut hurricane activity in the North Atlantic, it brought floods and heatwaves to many developing nations, where insurance frequently isn’t widespread, according to Munich Re.

Natural catastrophes claimed 23,000 lives last year, up from 7,700 in 2014, yet below the annual average of 54,000 for the past 30 years, the German reinsurer said.

The year’s worst catastrophe was the Nepal earthquake in April, where about 9,000 people died and losses totaled $4.8 billion, of which $210 million was insured, the company said.

The current El Nino Southern Oscillation of abnormally high sea-surface temperatures, which has led to a mild winter so far, is expected to be followed by a La Nina in 2016, which means a higher likelihood for hurricanes in the U.S.

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