Worldwide natural disasters caused $175 billion in damages in 2016. The financial impact increased more than two-thirds from the previous year. The costliest natural disasters took place in Asia, two earthquakes cost Japan $31 billion in losses, and flooding in China over the summer cost $20 billion.
North America faced 160 natural disasters, the highest number for the continent in a single year since 1980. The costliest and deadliest was Hurricane Matthew, which killed at least 550 in Haiti alone and caused $10 billion in damage. The United States and Canada also faced widespread wildfires and floods in 2016.
A series of storms in Europe caused $6 billion in damage and also contributed to record flooding around the world. Floods accounted for 34 percent of all financial losses in 2016.
Financial guru Warren Buffett said that natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and Japan's earthquake, have a greater economic impact than terrorism. These disasters, as well as tornadoes, floods, and tsunamis, cost the insurance industry billions. If large enough, they can slow economic growth for decades.