We get so caught up in the economic damage wrought by Sandy that we forget the damage done by last year's other major environmental crisis in America: the drought. Last year's record dryness spurred a massive increase in crop insurance claims here -- but extreme weather events dropped crop yields in other countries as well. The end result was the most expensive year in history for insurers.
Global crop insurance claims were the highest ever last year after drought cut yields in the U.S., historically the biggest grower of corn and soybeans.
Claims worldwide were worth about $23 billion in 2012, with $15 billion going to growers in the U.S., said Karl Murr, who heads the agriculture unit at Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurance company. About 85 percent of farmland is insured in the U.S., compared with 20 percent globally. …
As of Jan. 21, U.S. farmers had collected about $12.35 billion in insurance claims since the marketing year began, surpassing the $10.84 billion at the same time a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency.
That $15 billion is actually slightly less than was projected a few weeks ago, but still massive. Other countries experienced similar weather-related crop disasters, pushing the global bill into record territory.