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It is hard to overstate the importance of insurance in personal and commercial life. It is the key means by which individuals and businesses are able to reduce the financial impact of a risk occurring. Reinsurance is equally significant; it protects insurers against very large claims and helps to obtain an international spread of risk. Insurance and reinsurance play an important role in the world economy.
Looking back on 2013, we are fortunate that the year did not bring natural catastrophes on the scale of the previous two years. However, we should not forget the tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan, which claimed more than 7,000 lives in the Philippines. Flooding caused extensive damage across all continents, with the June flooding in central and Eastern Europe ranking as the second-most expensive freshwater flood event ever. In the same month, rain-induced flooding hit Alberta, Canada, causing insured losses of nearly US$2 billion, the highest ever recorded in the country for any disaster. There were also heavy rains and floods in Australia, India, China, Indonesia, southern Africa and Argentina and 2014 has seen extensive flooding in the UK.
Events such as these test not only insurers and reinsurers but also the rigour of the law. Insurance and reinsurance disputes provide a never-ending array of complex legal issues and new points for the courts and arbitral tribunals to consider.