2010, Year of the Disaster, Had $222 Billion in Worldwide Losses

With earthquakes, flooding, fires, continuing financial crisis, extreme cold and a major oil spill, 2010 had just about every variety of disaster, says this Wall Street Journal business article.

“The insurance company Swiss Re estimates that worldwide economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters reached $222 billion last year - more than triple the losses in 2009. Moreover, the number of deaths due to catastrophe reached 260,000 in 2010, which is the highest figure since 1976, and more than the total killed through terrorism over the last 40 years,” the article says.

Increasing global interdependence through far-flung supply chains and outsourcing means that once-isolated regional disasters are having an outsized impact. “If one link in the supply chain goes wrong, it can have a huge impact,” the Journal says.

Completing business continuity plans, with an emphasis on international communications and supply chain vulnerabilities, can help companies respond to and cope with disaster. The catastrophes led to a boom in the insurance industry, especially in catastrophic coverage, that has driven spreads low. “The market is becoming uncomfortably competitive. And that's driving some insurers to seek higher yields by providing catastrophe coverage in emerging markets like South America,” according to the coverage.

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