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2008 One of Worst Cat Years on Record

Swiss Re’s Sigma Study reported that 2008 was one of the worst years on record for catastrophe losses worldwide. More than 240,500 people were killed. The insurance industry paid $52.5 billion in claims for natural and man-made disasters. Total damages to the global economy amounted to $269 billion, half of which resulted from the earthquake that struck China in May. According to Swiss RE, “many governments in Asia face significant financial risks when catastrophes occur. Given the rapid development of income and wealth in Asia, the financial exposures will swiftly rise. This is likely to increase the focus on prevention and ex-post disaster management. It is expected, therefore, that in Asia insurance will play a more important role in the future than it does today.” However, the study predicted that insurance industry growth will be slow given the high percentage of people with low incomes in Asian countries.