950 events in year is highest on record, says Munich Re

Natural catastrophes as a result of climate change will lead to increased losses and higher premiums, the world's second largest Reinsurer, Munich Re has said.

The company estimates that global insured losses from natural disasters equated to $30 billion in 2007, doubling the previous year's figure – and $5bn more than an estimate published by Swiss Re last week.

The number of natural catastrophes this year rose to 950 – the highest since records began in 1974.

The most expensive catastrophe was winter storm Kyrill in January, which caused $5.8 billion in damages. The floods in June and July, meanwhile, cost UK insurers over $6bn.

Yet the figure of $30bn is far short of two years ago, when hurricanes Katrina and Rita led to a claims bill of $99 billion.

Management board member of Munich Re, Torsten Jeworrek said: "All the facts indicate that losses caused by weather-related natural catastrophes will continue to rise."

He added that this would lead to higher insurance premiums.

"The trend in respect to weather extremes shows that climate change is already taking effect and that more such extremes are to be expected in the future."

Floods and storms led to 15,000 deaths and $75 billion in damages worldwide in 2007.