Japan's earthquake and U.S. storms helped make 2011 thecostliest year on record for insurance companies in terms ofnatural-disaster losses, according to Munich Re.

Several “devastating” earthquakes and a large number ofweather-related catastrophes cost insurers $105 billion, more thandouble the natural-disaster figure for 2010 and exceeding the 2005record of $101 billion, the world's biggest reinsurer said in ane-mailed statement today. Competitor Swiss Re earlier estimatedthat the industry's claims from natural catastrophes reached $103billion.

Global economic losses jumped to $380 billion last year,surpassing the previous record of $220 billion in 2005, with thequakes in New Zealand in February and Japan in March accounting foralmost two-thirds of the losses, Munich Re said.

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