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[ZURICH] More than 10,000 people died as a result of natural and man-made disasters during 2016, with financial losses totalling at least US$158 billion, Swiss Re said on Thursday.
At an estimated US$49 billion, insured losses rose by nearly a third from US$37 billion in 2015, but covered less than a third of the costs incurred from catastrophes over the year. "The gap between total losses and insured losses in 2016 shows that many events took place in areas where insurance coverage was low," Swiss Re said in a statement.
Hurricane Matthew was 2016's deadliest natural catastrophe, Swiss Re said, claiming up to 733 lives, primarily in Haiti.
Matthew caused devastation in Haiti and throughout the east Caribbean in October before hitting the United States'southeastern coast, leaving US$8 billion in losses, Swiss Re said, of which US$4 billion were insured. Other estimates have put insured losses at up to US$8 billion.
A string of shocks and aftershocks that hit Japan's Kumamoto prefecture, including a 7.0-magnitude quake in April, claimed 137 lives and were the costliest disaster of 2016, causing US$20 billion in losses, of which only a quarter were insured. "Society is underinsured against earthquake risk, and the protection gap is a global concern," Swiss Re Chief Economist Kurt Karl said.
Swiss Re estimated the cost of Canada's Fort McMurray wildfires-the country's costliest disaster ever for insurers-at US$3.9 billion on an economic level and US$2.8 billion for insurers.