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Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters > Climate change

12 Apr 13 15:59

For years now, we've been seeing a dramatic rise in economic losses caused by natural catastrophes.

Since 1980, the global economic fallout from floods, earthquakes, storms and other disasters has gone up from an average cost of USD 25 billion per year in the 1980s to an annual average of USD 130 billion between 2000 and 2010. That's an increase of over 500% in 30 years!

Don't expect a reversal of this trajectory any time soon as urban populations continue to grow and countries develop. The trend is nowhere more visible than in the world's high-growth markets which are accumulating new wealth and rapidly expanding their economies.

Climate change is an aggravating factor because it increases the threat of more weather extremes and rising sea levels.

Without investing in disaster preparedness, countries may be leaving their people and infrastructure exposed to a dangerous level of risk. And it may also mean that certain risks will become uninsurable in the future.

This is why disaster preparedness and climate adaptation go hand in hand when it comes to protecting local populations and risk-proofing their economies.

Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Floods/storms, Resilience


PalkinZed - 26 Apr 2013, 6:56 a.m.

Mister Hausmann,

What about natural disasters in developing nations where the culture for insurance has not developed and the locals have little to no exposure to insurance. Do you advocate the penetration of these markets, by corporations like Swiss Re, through the mechanism of micro-insurance?
I would imagine that micro-insurance would be a great way to expose the culture and developing nation to the concept of insurance and allow for the organic short and long term growth of a loyal customer base. Additionally, micro-insurance, in developing nations, targeted to the agricultural industry in reference to natural disasters & catastrophes, could allow many individuals and families to pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty, by not having their livelihood be dictated by global disasters. Thoughts?

-Palkin Zed

jonathan_tin - 30 Apr 2013, 10:13 a.m.

Mr. Zed --
As I read it, that's exactly the spirit in which Swiss Re is operating in (e.g.) Vietnam:

As you imply, such schemes require a lot of learning on both supply and demand side as well as a long-term orientation.


Reto Schnarwiler - 30 Apr 2013, 10:42 a.m.

I think you are absolutely right. The insurance penetration in most emerging and developing countries is quite low. As a consequence, most of the financial burden stemming from natural disasters ends up with governments and individuals. This creates fiscal stress for governments and they have to finance this burden by raising taxes, raising debt (if they can) or waiting for donor support. Individuals are often pushed into poverty as a result of such disasters as they have few (or no) safety nets.
Fortunately, more and more governments insure against such disasters (see for example Mexico: We also see a number of innovative microinsurance solutions, like for example in Haiti (

This is a fascinating and fast evolving area and we will see more developments in this space.

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