Worldwide damage from natural disasters drops

Natural disasters caused total economic losses of $41 billion in the first six months of this year, much less than usual, reinsurance group Swiss Re estimated on Wednesday.

Worldwide damage from natural disasters drops
Swiss Re headquarters in Zurich. Photo: Swiss Re

The figure released by the Zurich-based group —  which combines both insured and uninsured losses — was down from $59 billion (45 billion euros) in the first half of 2013.
It was also about half the average first-half loss of the previous ten years, which was $94 billion.
The insurance industry took a hit of $21 billion from disasters in the January to June period.
That was down from the $25 billion in payouts over the same period in 2013, and also below the $27 billion ten-year average.
The costliest disaster for the insurance sector was the thunderstorms and hail which hit the United States in mid-May, causing $3.2 billion in damage, of which $2.6 billion was insured.
Next came June's storms in France, Germany and Belgium, where losses reached $2.7 billion, with $2.5 billion of that covered by insurers.
February's snowstorm in Japan inflicted $5 billion in economic losses, but only half of that figured was insured.
The January snowstorm in the United States lead to economic losses of $2.5 billion, of which $1.7 billion was insured.
And May's thunderstorms and tornadoes in the United States generated losses of $1.7 billion, with $1.1 billion of that covered.
Rich countries traditionally see the most expensive single disasters in terms of insurance claims, given their wealthier economies and extensive insurance penetration.
Poorer nations generally face a gap between overall economic damage and insurance payouts.
For example, May's heavy flooding in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia resulted in economic losses of $4.5 billion, but Swiss Re said insured losses were moderate due to low coverage.
Poorer nations also traditionally bear the brunt in terms of lives lost in disasters, which Swiss Re said reached 4,700 in the first six months of the year.
Man-made disasters were to blame for economic losses of $3 billion over the first half, with $2 billion of the sum insured.
In the first six months of 2013, man-made disaster losses had reached $5 billion, above the ten-year average of $4 billion.

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EXPLAINED: Why you need ‘legal protection insurance’ in Switzerland

Swiss insurance companies offer a variety of services, but the one covering legal disputes is among the most popular ones. This is what you should know about it.

EXPLAINED: Why you need 'legal protection insurance' in Switzerland
Law and order: Legal insurance may make it easier. Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

The Swiss like to be prepared for all kinds of disasters — both real and imaginary.

This is where insurance comes in.

Whether it’s a policy that covers damages inflicted on cars by weasels, or insurance for theft of sleds and skis placed outside a mountain restaurant, people here don’t like to leave anything to chance.

One of the most popular optional coverages — as opposed the health insurance, which is compulsory — is legal protection insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherungen in German, protection juridique in French, and protezione giuridica in Italian).

What is it and what does it cover?

Simply put, it covers attorney and other associated fees if you undertake court action against someone, are sued, or simply need legal advice.

There are two different types of legal protection insurance — one specifically for traffic accidents and the other for all other matters. Sometimes they are combined.

Typically, this insurance covers costs of legal representation associated with contract disputes, employment, loans and debts, healthcare, housing, retail purchases, and travel.

Photo by Rodnae Productions from Pexels

Some carriers also insure cases related to marital law and inheritance.

Most will not cover attorney fees for criminal cases where you are the perpetrator, or financial disputes related to asset management, banking and investment.

Also excluded is legal action related to political or religious activism.

Can you choose your own lawyer or will you have one assigned to you by the insurance company?

Typically, an insurer has a roster of approved attorneys with whom it works. Some allow the client to choose from the list, while  others select one for you.

If your own lawyer is part of your insurer’s roster, you can request he or she represents you, but it is not guaranteed.

How much does this insurance cost?

Fees vary depending on what coverage you need (traffic accidents, general, or combined), whether they have deductibles, and how high they are.

You can compare the premiums by using this link.

Do you actually need this coverage?

As is the case with any optional insurance, you don’t need it until you do.

Generally speaking, and according to online consumer comparison site, “if you require legal consultation at least once every two years, getting personal legal insurance often makes financial sense. Just the legal consultation benefits which you get with some insurance policies can make up for the cost of premiums”.

READ MORE: How much does health insurance cost in Switzerland?