German insurer Munich Re issued a press release stating that while 2009 saw fewer natural catastrophe losses than 2008, the number of natural hazard events was above average. Munich Re reports that economic losses totaled $50 billion and uninsured losses totaled $22 billion in 2009, as compared to $200 billion in economic losses and $50 billion in uninsured losses in 2008.

Prof. Peter Höppe, Head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research said, “However, we should make no mistake: despite the lack of severe hurricanes and other megacatastrophes, there was a large number of moderately severe natural catastrophes. In particular, the trend towards an increase in weather-related catastrophes continues, whilst there has fundamentally been no change in the risk of geophysical events such as earthquakes.”

According to the press release, Torsten Jeworrek, the Munich Re Board member responsible for global reinsurance business, drew attention to the marked increase in major weather-related natural catastrophes worldwide since 1950, the number now having more or less tripled. Mr. Jeworrek stated, “We need as soon as possible an agreement that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions because the climate reacts slowly and what we fail to do now will have a bearing for decades to come.”

A copy of the press release can be seen here.