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Climate change ‘will lead to massive insurance claims’

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Accelerating climate change will lead to bigger insurance claims in the future and could damage corporate saving and investment plans, according to global insurer Swiss Re.

It said there had been a relatively low incidence of natural disasters possibly attributable to climate change in 2006, causing a total of $48bn (£24.8bn) worth of damage around the world.

This was a lot lower than the $230bn paid out the previous year – damage that was largely due to Hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Wilma and that wrecked the saving and investment infrastructure of cities like New Orleans.

However, a spokesperson for Swiss Re said extreme weather conditions caused by global warming were likely to “aggravate losses” in the future and inevitably lead to higher premiums.

“These global insurance problems are mirrored at the micro level,” said retired financial adviser Peter Stanway, “and make it more important that people compare building and content insurance, for example, if there is the increased likelihood of flooding or subsidence in their area.”

Across the world, insurance companies paid out $15.9bn in catastrophe-related claims in 2006, with natural disasters comprising $11.8bn of these, according to Swiss Re.

Many of these disasters occurred in the developing world where there is less insurance cover and property is cheaper.



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