updated 9/11/2007 9:28:09 AM ET 2007-09-11T13:28:09

The global reinsurance industry will have to pay out $35 billion this year to cover the cost of natural disasters such as flooding in Britain and Hurricane Dean in the Caribbean, Swiss Reinsurance Co. said Monday.

The world's largest reinsurer said the steep rise from last year's payments of $12 billion reflects a "long-term trend towards high natural catastrophe claims."

Reinsurance companies sell backup coverage to other insurers, spreading risk so the system can handle huge losses from major disasters.

European winter storms alone cost the industry over $5 billion, Swiss Re said.

Floods in Britain during June and July led to claims between $4 billion and $7 billion. Hurricane Dean, which hit Mexico and the Caribbean last month, caused insured damages of over $1 billion.

Swiss Re cited an additional $1.2 billion in property-related claims from storms and floods in the United States this year.

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