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The natural disasters of 2018 in figure

2018 therefore ranks among the ten costliest disaster years in terms of overall losses, and was the fourth-costliest year since 1980 for the insurance industry.

The overall economic impact was US$ 160bn, of which US$ 80bn was insured, significantly higher percentage than the long-term average of 28%. North America accounted for 68% of insured losses, Asia for 23% and Europe for 8%.

Regrettably, 10,400 people around the world lost their lives in natural disasters this year.

 Number of events

The Munich Re NatCatSERVICE registered 850 events in 2018. Storms made up 42%, floods, flash floods and landslides 46%, while 7% fell into the categories of heat, cold and wildfire. The continents most affected were Asia (43%), North America (20%) Europe (14%) and Africa (13%).

 North America (including Central America and the Caribbean)

163 natural catastrophe events were registered across the American continent, producing overall losses of US$ 82bn, of which US$ 53bn was insured. More than 800 people lost their lives.

The Camp Fire in California in 2018 caused the highest overall wildfire loss on record.

 South America

South America experienced an extremely low number of natural disasters in 2018. The NatCatSERVICE database registered just 51 significant events. A total of 144 people were killed and losses amounted to some US$ 1bn.


Europe, with a total of 113 events and overall losses of US$ 16bn (€13.5bn). Some US$ 6bn (€5bn) was paid out in insured losses. In mid-October, the remnants of Tropical Storm Leslie battered France, Portugal and Spain. Further storm developed that primarily affected Italy, Croatia and Slovenia along the Adriatic coast. The deadliest events in 2018 also included the wildfires in Greece, which claimed 100 lives, and a cold snap in February and March that led to 77 fatalities. 


Around 100 significant events were registered for the continent of Africa. Almost 1,200 people were killed, the majority in flood events and flash floods in Nigeria and Kenya.



Asia was the worst-affected continent in terms of the number of events. It accounted for 43% of all events worldwide and for 74% of fatalities in 2018. Overall losses came to US$ 59bn., US$ 18bn of the total was insured. In Japan, even though just 14 events were registered, suffered US$ 34bn in losses in, of which US$ 16bn was insured.

Indonesia was hit extremely hard by tsunami events. In September, a tremor near the city of Palu and a subsequent tsunami and further tsunami occurred after the volcano Anak Krakatau erupted. Both these events claimed more than 2400 victims.


Around 40 events in Australia and Oceania caused overall losses of approximately US$ 1.5bn, of which US$ 540m was insured. Main events: a hailstorm in Sydney, earthquake in Papua New Guinea, and Cyclone Gita on Tonga.

Source: Munich RE