Weather is the biggest cause of global losses so far this year.

U.S. Weather Remains Biggest Driver of Global Insurance Losses in 2017: Aon

May 10, 2017

Severe weather in the U.S. remains the largest contributor to global insurance losses in 2017 after April continued the trend with multi-billion dollar losses for public and private insurers, according to Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team.

“Much of the focus in April was once again on the United States, as powerful thunderstorms and excessive rainfall led to considerable impacts to central and eastern sections of the country,” said Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist.

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IThe most severe outbreak in the U.S., from late April into early May, “featured a complex and broad storm weather system that spawned violent tornadoes, straight-line winds, large hail and excessive rainfall, killing 20 people in parts of the Plains, Midwest, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast,” said the Impact Forecasting report, titled “Global Catastrophe Recap – April 2017.”

Total economic – or uninsured – losses from this event alone were expected to exceed US$1.0 billion, said Impact Forecasting, which evaluates the impact of worldwide natural disaster events on a monthly basis.

“The industry in the U.S. is well on its way to facing its tenth consecutive year of annual payouts of US$10 billion or more for the severe convective storm peril,” Bowen said. “Beyond the U.S., insurers continued to assess the cost of wind and flood damage resulting from Cyclone Debbie in Australia and New Zealand.”

Turning to Cyclone Debbie, the report explained that this storm swept across parts of the South Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand from late March into the first weeks of April, killing at least 14 people. Eastern Australia was the worst affected, with damage from high winds and widespread coastal and inland flooding resulting in an anticipated insured loss of US$970 million.

The remnants of Debbie later caused flooding in New Zealand, where total insured losses were expected to surpass tens of millions of U.S. dollars, said the report.

Aon Benfield said Debbie’s overall economic cost is estimated at around US$2.0 billion.

The report went on to discuss other natural hazard events that occurred in April:

  • An ongoing weather phenomenon deemed a “coastal El Niño” led to heavy rainfall in parts of Colombia, killing an estimated 400 people in the Colombian town of Mocoa. A further 17 people died in Manizales after separate massive debris flows destroyed dozens of neighborhoods.
  • Major flooding in northeast Bangladesh led to extensive agricultural damage in excess of US$350 million. Similar levels of flooding in Iran killed 48 people and caused damage beyond US$353 million.
  • Frigid temperatures and frost across central Europe inflicted severe crop damage. Preliminary combined losses to vineyards and orchards alone were expected to reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • A series of earthquakes struck the northern Philippines, causing damage to roughly 5,000 homes, schools, and other buildings in multiple provinces.
  • A pre-monsoon season summer heatwave claimed 10 lives in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Odisha.
  • Severe weather outbreaks in China and Pakistan left thousands of structures damaged.
  • Significant flood events occurred in Canada, Hispaniola, Indonesia, and Kyrgyzstan.

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