Swiss Re cites US weather for big insurance losses

GENEVA (AP) — The world's second-largest reinsurer says natural catastrophes and man-made disasters cost the insurance industry $77 billion in 2012, the third costliest year on record.

Swiss Re says the more than 300 catastrophes and disasters caused the loss of 14,000 lives and $186 billion, mostly due to "large scale weather events" in the United States such as Hurricane Sandy that accounted for $35 billion of insured losses — nearly half the total worldwide.

But the Zurich-based firm noted in a statement Wednesday the losses were well down from 2011, when record earthquakes and flooding in Asia Pacific region caused the highest ever recorded losses of more than $126 billion.

Kurt Karl, Swiss Re's chief economist, says "large parts of the globe that are prone to weather extremes" were uninsured.