Global Natural Disasters Cost Insurers $45B in 2013: Impact Forecasting

January 13, 2014
Natural Disasters

In 2013, there were 296 separate natural disaster events that produced total economic losses of $192 billion – four percent below the 10-year average of $200 billion, but above the average 259 events, according to a report by global reinsurance intermediary Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development center, Impact Forecasting.

The natural disasters caused total insured losses of $45 billion – their lowest since 2009 and 22 percent below the 10-year average of $58 billion, the report says.

In a reversal from 2012, the largest global events of 2013 were heavily concentrated in Europe and Asia, rather than in the United States. However, despite just 16 percent of all economic losses occurring in the U.S., the country accounted for 45 percent of all insured losses globally due to its greater insurance penetration.

Flood events accounted for 35 percent of all global economic losses during the year, which marked their highest percentage of aggregate losses since 2010. Notable events included major flooding in Central Europe, Indonesia, the Philippines, China, and Australia.

Meanwhile, severe drought conditions contributed to billion-dollar losses in Brazil, China, New Zealand, and the U.S. , according to the Impact Forecasting analysis.

Aon Benfield said U.S. insured losses, at 45 percent of the total, were in-line with the U.S. 42 percent share of global property premium.

The study highlights that the most deadly event of 2013 was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines in November, leaving nearly 8,000 people dead or missing.

“The year 2013 was an active year for serious catastrophe events but one in which the industry dodged the bullet of a single dominating insured event,” Stephen Mildenhall, CEO of Aon Benfield Analytics. “Typhoon Haiyan, however, demonstrated the real and ever-present potential for large scale destruction.”

The May/June floods in Central Europe were the costliest single event of the year, causing an estimated USD5.3 billion insured loss and approximately $22 billion in economic losses. Most of the flood losses were sustained in Germany, which also endured record-level insured hail losses during multiple summer convective thunderstorm events.

No hurricanes struck the U.S. during the year, as the country extended its record streak without a major (Category 3+) hurricane landfall to eight consecutive years. The previous record was set between September 1900 and October 1906.

A total of 15 tropical cyclones (Category 1+) made landfall globally in 2013, slightly below the 1980-2012 average of 16. Thirteen of the landfalls were registered in the Northern Hemisphere, including nine in Asia.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and the Americas (Non-U.S.) each sustained aggregate insured losses above their 10-year averages in 2013. The United States and Asia-Pacific (APAC) regions both incurred below normal insured losses.

The report also reveals that preliminary data indicates that 2013 was the fourth warmest year recorded since global land and ocean temperature records began in 1880.

 

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