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The Associated Press January 4, 2012, 5:25AM ET

Munich Re: Record natural disaster losses in 2011

A leading reinsurer says devastating earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand made 2011 the insurance industry's costliest yet in natural disaster losses.

Munich Re said in an annual report Wednesday that insured losses last year totaled $105 billion -- exceeding the previous record of $101 billion set in 2005, when losses were swollen by claims from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

The company said the total economic cost last year from natural disasters -- including uninsured losses -- totaled about $380 billion. That was far above the 2005 record of $220 billion.

Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March caused insured losses of up to $40 billion. The second most costly disaster for insurers, at $13 billion, was the February quake that hit the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

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