The first six months of 2011 saw heavy losses from an exceptional accumulation of global natural catastrophes. A series of powerful earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, combined with multi-billion dollar payouts from tornadoes and floods in the United States and Australia, meant the (re)insurance sector experienced the most costly first half on record in accident-year terms. Insured losses of around USD70 billion are estimated for the period, which is more than five times higher than the first-half average for the past ten years and second only to the full 12-month loss of 2005.
Figure 1 shows the significant catastrophic losses that have affected the (re)insurance industry over the last 18 months. The losses sustained in the first half of 2011 have already surpassed those recorded in 2010 and 2009 combined.