The most expensive disasters globally in 2013 hit First World nations, but the ones that cost the most lives struck developing countries.
German insurer Munich Re, in its annual report on disasters, said Tuesday that some 20,000 people died in natural disasters last year, about twice as many as in 2012.
Most of the deaths resulted from Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines, Vietnam and China in November with a loss of almost 6,100 lives. This was followed by floods in India that killed about 5,500 people in June.
The overall economic losses from Typhoon Haiyan totaled $10 billion. Insurance losses will likely be low, Munich Re said, because fewer people and businesses there carry insurance.
In contrast, flooding in central Europe in May and June topped the list of global economic damage last year at more than $15 billion, with the insurance industry paying out $3 billion in claims. The most costly event for insurers last year was a set of hailstorms that struck southern Germany in July, damaging hundreds of thousands of cars and buildings and prompting $3.7 billion in insurance payouts.
Both the $125 billion global economic damage caused by natural catastrophes last year and the $31 billion in claims paid by insurers were below the average of the last 10 years of $184 billion and $56 billion, respectively, Munich Re said.
The number of deaths worldwide was also below the 106,000 seen on average over the last 10 years.