The 11 Most Expensive Insurance Losses In Recent History

hurricane wilma

Photo: AP images

2011 was a pretty crummy year for the insurance industry.In fact, according to insurance industry analysts Swiss Re it was the worst year ever, thanks to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The firm puts its preliminary estimate for the industry’s catastrophe-related economic losses at $108 billion.

That figure would have been even higher had Japan been more fully insured, the firm notes. 

Earthquakes in New Zealand, floods in Thailand and those crazy spring storms in the Ozarks and Alabama all conspired to create huge losses for the industry.

But none of those incidents come close to the No. 1 most costly event for the industry in the past 30 years.

Swiss Re updates its list of those events annually. Last year’s disaster in Japan is the latest entry, making a strong showing but still paling in comparison to the all-time loss leader.

Note: All losses have been adjusted to 2010 dollars.

11. Typhoon Mireille

Country affected: Japan

Date: September 1991

Losses: $9 billion

Source: Swiss Re

10. Hurricane Charley

Countries affected: U.S., Cuba, Jamaica, Cayman Islands

Date: August 2004

Losses: $9.3 billion

Source: Swiss Re

9. Hurricane Rita

Countries affected: U.S., Cuba

Date: September 2005

Losses: $11.3 billion

Source: Swiss Re

8. Hurricane Wilma

Countries Affected: U.S., Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti

Date: October 2005

Losses: $14 billion

Source: Swiss Re

7. Hurricane Ivan

Countries Affected: U.S., Barbados

Date: September 2004

Losses: $14.9 billion

Source: Swiss Re

6. Hurricane Ike

Countries affected: U.S., Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Turks and Caicos

Date: September 2005

Losses: $20.5 billion

Source: Swiss Re

5. Northridge Earthquake

Country affected: U.S.

Date: January 1994

Losses: $20.6 billion

Source: Swiss Re

4. September 11 Attacks

Country affected: U.S.

Date: September 2001

Losses: $23.1 billion

Source: Swiss Re

3. Hurricane Andrew

Countries affected: U.S., Bahamas

Date: August 1992

Losses: $25 billion

Source: Swiss Re

2. Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

Country affected: Japan

Date: March 2011

Losses: $35 billion

Source: Swiss Re

1. Hurricane Katrina

Countries affected: U.S., Bahamas, Cuba

Date: August 2005

Losses: $72.3 billion

Source: Swiss Re

Take a closer look at the damage caused by the Japanese tsunami and earthquake

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