Though there were fewer catastrophes globally in 2017 than the previous year, they caused significantly more damage, and the year’s historic hurricane season is largely to blame, according to the latest Swiss Re Sigma report.

In all, the reinsurer tracked 301 catastrophes in 2017 and they caused $337 billion in total economic losses, the report found. In 2016, there were 329 catastrophes that led to $180 billion in total economic losses.

That spike happened, in large part due to Hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, which struck in the 2017 second half and caused an estimated $92 billion in insured losses, according to Swiss Re estimates.

Swiss Re said the $193 billion difference between total and insured losses shows a large global protection gap for catastrophe events.

Other findings in the report:

  • Global premium growth dipped to 1.5 percent in 2017, from 2.2 percent in 2016, due to falling life premiums in advanced markets.
  • Global non-life premiums grew by 2.8 percent to $2.2 trillion in 2017, down from a 3.3 percent growth in 2016 and a bit above the 10-year average of 2.1 percent. Swiss Re attributes this to lower growth in emerging markets, particularly in China.
  • In advanced markets, non-life premiums grew by just under 2 percent in 2017, about the same as in 2016 and higher than the 10-year average of just under 1 percent.
  • China and North America were the biggest contributors to global non-life premium growth, with each contributing about 1 percent each. Western Europe followed, at 0.3 percent.
  • U.S. non-life premium growth for 2017 was at a stable 2.6 percent, thanks in part to the higher rates in auto coverage.

Source: Swiss Re Sigma study: “World Insurance in 2017.”

Topics Catastrophe