Future of the Environment

This chart shows how much more common natural disasters are becoming

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MunichRe registered 820 natural disasters causing insured losses in 2019. Image: REUTERS/Asahi Shimbun

Katharina Buchholz
Data Journalist, Statista
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Future of the Environment

  • Reinsurer MunichRe registered 820 natural disasters causing insured losses in 2019.
  • This number has tripled from thirty years ago and climate change is a factor in causing this higher rate of natural disasters.
  • The most expensive natural disasters to date include the Tohoku earthquake ($210 billion) and Hurrican Katrina ($61 billion).

MunichRe registered 820 natural disasters causing insured losses in 2019 - three times as many as thirty years ago. Some – but not all – of that rise can be chalked up to more people carrying insurance. MunichRe estimates that the share of natural disaster losses which are insured only doubled since 1980. MunichRe and scientists agree that climate change is another factor that causes more natural disasters to occur, while human settlements encroaching further into nature have also influenced the number of insured losses events.

Reinsurer MunichRe, which is an insurer of insurers, estimates the cost of natural disaster since 1980 at around $5 trillion, only about a quarter of which was insured. The damage from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011 is estimated at around $210 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster on MunichRe’s list. Hurricane Katrina caused the highest amount of insured losses at around $61 billion.

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While hydrological (floods) and meteorological disasters (weather events incl. flooding caused by rain) are equally common around the world, losses from the latter are twice as high. Counting only insured losses, 70 percent of damages are caused by weather events globally.

Natural disasters on the rise around the globe.
Natural disasters on the rise around the globe. Image: Statista
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Future of the EnvironmentGlobal Health
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