SURVEY SHOWS INCREASE IN CATASTROPHE LOSSES

SURVEY SHOWS INCREASE IN CATASTROPHE LOSSES

Major disasters killed some 15,000 people in 1989, compared with 50,000 in 1988, and caused at least $13.75 billion in damages to insured property last year, according to a recent Swiss survey.

The cost of natural and man-made disasters is rising, the report said, noting that $1 billion disasters could be expected every three to five years in the 1970s and early 1980s but are more frequent now.Four disasters alone: Hurricane Hugo, an explosion at a Texas petrochemical plant, the San Francisco earthquake, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill accounted for more than half of the 1989 claims.

The study recorded 292 disasters that each killed at least 20 people or caused property damage of at least $16.2 million last year, only 10 more than in 1988. But the overall amount of damage they caused more than doubled.

The soaring level of property damage reflected higher insurance coverage, the survey said.