The US Private-Sector Insurance companies will pay over $32bn in claims to help people overcome damages caused by natural disasters in 2011, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

I.I.I president Robert Hartwig said that the $32.6bn direct insured losses due to catastrophes in the first nine months of 2011 was double when compared to the $18.6bn direct insured losses generally incurred by the insurers over the first nine months of any given year.

According to Statutory Accounting Principles, the insurers’ net worth measured $538.6bn in 2011 fell by only 4% compared to $559.2bn at 2010 end regardless of the frequency and severity of disasters in the US policyholders’ surplus.

Hartwig added: "The policyholders’ surplus number is a sure sign that US property or casualty insurers remain well-capitalised, and capable of paying future claims."

The federal government has designated a natural disaster as a major disaster on 99 separate occasions this year which makes federal funding available to affected individuals and businesses.

The total direct insured losses incurred from the catastrophes that occurred in 2011’s fourth quarter including the snowstorm in the Atlantic are expected to surpass $35bn this year, Hartwig added.

Meanwhile, the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has also announced that the US was the site of 12 separate weather/climate disasters, each of which caused at least $1bn in damage amounting to a total of $52bn in 2011.