The Southern California wildfires dominated the year's property and casualty insurance claims, according to the Los Angeles Times, but the overall expense is far lower than recent years, when major hurricanes have made U.S. landfall.
The losses from 23 catastrophes is estimated at $6.5 billion, down from $62 billion in 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast.
The year in catastrophes generally echoed the state of insurance worldwide.
"Although the insured losses, at $25 billion, were $9 billion higher than in the previous year, 2007 is below the long-term loss trend," according to an analysis by Swiss Re, a major world re-insurer, or insurer of insurers. "The large losses occurred in the first half of the year and were concentrated in Europe. The second half of the year as of 11 December 2007 has been less eventful. Over the course of the year, more than 20,000 people died in catastrophes. Bangladesh, for example, was hit several times by natural disasters, with Cyclone Sidr destroying extensive parts of the country's south-western region in Mid-November, at a cost of more than 4,000 lives. In July and August, the country was also hard hit by monsoon rains and landslides."
The trend in recent years has been toward higher losses from catastrophes, as a growing population and settlement patterns (including along the U.S. coast) put more people in harm's way, as global warming increased the chances of frequent and intense natural disasters.
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