Insurers suffer $105bn of insured losses, the largest since Hurricane Katrina

A fishing boat is among debris in Ofunato, Japan, following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami

Insured losses last year hit $105bn (£67.5bn), the worst year on record, according to Munich Re.

The previous high was in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina, which racked up $101bn losses.

Last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March cost insurers between $35bn and $40bn.

The New Zealand earthquake in February added a further $13bn to insurers’ claims payout for the year, Munich Re said in its annual review.

Global economic losses from the catastrophes was a record $380bn.

Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek said: “Thankfully, a sequence of severe natural catastrophes like last year’s is a very rare occurrence. We had to contend with events with return periods of once every 1,000 years or even higher at the locations concerned.

“But we are prepared for such extreme situations. It is the insurance industry’s task to cover extreme losses as well, to help society cope with such events and to learn from them in order to protect mankind better from these natural perils.”