Emergencies and disasters do not affect only health and well-being; frequently, large numbers of people are displaced, killed or injured, or subjected to greater risk of epidemics. Considerable economic harm is also common, and Fig. 2 shows how economic and insured losses have risen since 1960. This has led to a restructuring of the insurance industry, with insured parties bearing more costs, and governments assisting the insurance and reinsurance markets (2). Uninsured and economic losses are creating immense burdens on communities, economies, and governments. As Fig. 3 shows, these disasters are not confined to a particular part of the world; they can occur anywhere and at any time.