According to a report in the Telegraph, although the number of natural disasters was lower than in 2007, the catastrophes proved to be more deadly and more expensive, Germany-based Munich Re said in its annual assessment.
Most devastating in terms of human fatalities was Cyclone Nargis, which lashed Burma in early May, killing more than 135,000 people and leave more than one million homeless.
Just days later an earthquake shook China"s Sichuan province, leaving 70,000 dead, 18,000 missing and almost five million homeless, according to official figures.
Around 1,000 people died in a severe cold snap in Jan in Afghanistan, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan, while 635 perished in Aug and Sep in floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Typhoon Fengshen killed 557 people in China and the Philippines in June, while earthquakes in Pakistan in October left 300 dead.
Six tropical cyclones also slammed into the southern United States, including Ike, which, with insured losses of 10 billion dollars, was the industry"s costliest catastrophe of the year.
In Europe, an intense low-pressure system called Emma caused two billion dollars worth of damage in March; while a storm dubbed Hilal in late May and early June left 1.1 billion dollars" worth.
According to provisional estimates from the World Meteorological Organization, 2008 was the tenth warmest year since the beginning of routine temperature recording and the eighth warmest in the northern hemisphere. “This continues the long-term trend we have been observing. Climate change has already started and is very probably contributing to increasingly frequent weather extremes and ensuing natural catastrophes," Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek said.
The world needed “effective and binding rules on CO2 emissions, so that climate change is curbed and future generations do not have to live with weather scenarios that are difficult to control," he added.