US attacks bring insurance losses rise to £80bn

Major natural and man-made catastrophes have cost the globe more than £80bn so far this year, largely because of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, a major insurer said Thursday.

Major natural and man-made catastrophes have cost the globe more than £80bn so far this year, largely because of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, a major insurer said Thursday.

More than 33,000 people have died as the result of disasters so far in 2001, almost half of those in an earthquake in India, said a study by Swiss Reinsurance Company.

The attacks cost an estimated £62bn, of which £13bn was insured, Swiss Re said. As a result, 2001 will be the third-largest year for insurance losses since the company started keeping records in 1970.

‘‘At over £80bn, the economic losses are more than three times the average for the 1990s,’’ said Swiss Re, whose annual studies of the global cost of disasters calculate both the insured losses and the total economic losses.

The attacks represented easily the single largest insurance loss for a man-made disaster, Swiss Re said. The next most expensive was the explosion on the Piper Alpha drilling platform in the North Sea in 1988, which cost insurance companies £2bn at 2001 prices.

‘‘The attack on September 11 chalked up the biggest economic loss by far, but billion-dollar losses were also caused by the Code Red computer worm and the explosion of a drilling platform off the coast of Brazil.’’

The biggest ever insurance loss was caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which cost the insurance industry £14bn at today’s prices.

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