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1/20/2012 - Countries sustain severe economic losses due to catastrophes

2011 set a record for disasters worldwide.

A new study indicates 2011 will go down as the year where countries sustained the highest economic losses resulting from environmental catastrophes in history.

According to global reinsurance firm Swiss Re, total insured losses resulting from natural catastrophes totaled $108 billion this past year. That's more than double last year's $48 billion. As a result, economic losses to countries reached $350 billion.

Floods, tornadoes and hurricanes were some of the costliest disasters, but according to Kurt Karl, Swiss Re's chief economist, earthquake damage generated the most significant damage totals.

"2011 is going down as another year of very tragic and costly earthquakes," said Karl. "Unfortunately earthquake insurance coverage is still quite low, even in some industrialized countries with high seismic risk, like Japan."

He added that relief organizations, governments and taxpayers ultimately end up bearing the costs, since many homeowners and businesses do not have earthquake coverage.

While earthquake damage resulted in insured losses totaling nearly $47 billion, flooding was costly as well. Severe flooding in Thailand and Australia triggered property insurance losses of over $10 billion, the report found.

To learn more about earthquake insurance coverage, talk to your Selective agent today.

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