Munich Re, the world?s largest insurance company, said that the world experienced a record number of natural disasters in 2000, although the number of deaths was lower because fewer populated areas were affected. 10,000 people died as a result of natural disasters in 2000, compared with 75,000 in 1999, while the number of disasters rose from 750 to 850.

Damage was estimated to be $30 billion, but despite this, 2000 wasn?t an expensive year for insurance companies, because only $7.5 billion of these losses were covered by insurance. This is partly because so many of the problems occurred in poorer countries, where people are less likely to be insured.

Storms caused 73 percent of the losses, while floods accounted for 23 percent. The flooding in Mozambique in February, which left half a million people homeless, was the largest single disaster. The biggest problems in the U.S. were caused by forest fires. These were expensive for the insurance companies, since the homes that were destroyed were heavily insured. Europe?s major disaster was drought and the resulting crop destruction.

The world’s greatest disaster in 2000 was the Great Mozambique Flood in February, which left fifteen million people homeless.

“Global warming has to be slowed down,” said Gerhard Berz, head of the Munich Re geo-science research group. “Otherwise, the risk situation for insurers in many of the world?s regions will intensify.”

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