NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Global Disaster Losses Reach $115 Billion in 2001

December 21, 2001

The terror attacks on the United States brought this year's global disaster losses to more than $115 billion, says a major insurer. The study by Swiss Reinsurance Company shows the September 11 attacks cost an estimated $90 billion, of which $19 billion was insured.

Swiss Reinsurance performs annual studies of the global cost of disasters, calculating both the insured losses and the total economic losses. 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.

As a result of the U.S. attacks, 2001 will be the third-largest year for insurance losses since the company started keeping records in 1970.

  • At over $115 billion, the economic losses are more than three times the annual average for the 1990s.
  • The September 11 atrocity represented easily the single largest insurance loss for a manmade disaster.
  • The next most expensive was the explosion on the Piper Alpha drilling platform in the North Sea in 1988, which cost insurance companies $3 billion at 2001 prices.

However, the biggest insurance loss ever was a natural disaster -- Hurricane Andrew in 1992 cost the insurance industry $20.2 billion at today's prices.

Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurance company, says it expects to pay out around two billion Swiss francs ($1.25 billion) as a result of the September 11 attacks.

Source: "US attacks bring year's global disaster losses to $115bn," Ananova, December 20, 2001.

 

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