Europe’s Floods Top Aon Benfield’s List of June’s Catastrophes

July 11, 2013

The latest report from Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe model development center of excellence at Aon Benfield, which reviews the natural disasters that occurred worldwide during June 2013, highlights the $22 billion in economic losses and the $5 billion insured loss estimate from the floods the hit Eastern and central Europe during the first half of the month.

The report notes that the floods were responsible for the deaths of at least 23 people and resulted in “combined economic losses of up to €17 billion ($22.2 billion), and insured losses tentatively estimated at approximately €4.0 billion ($5.3 billion). Most of the losses were attributable to Germany.”

The majority of flood damage occurred in Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and Switzerland after major rivers burst their banks, including the Danube, Vltava, Rhine, Main, and Neckar.

The report also notes that the “unprecedented flooding,” which impacted Canada’s Alberta Province following significant rainfall at the end of June,” caused the deaths of at least four people and resulted in the declaration of a state of emergency in 27 communities.

Calgary sustained extensive damage after the Bow and Elbow Rivers burst their banks and flooded the downtown region, while other towns, including Medicine Hat, Canmore, Banff, and High River, were also heavily damaged.

The report estimates total economic losses at “around C$4.0 billion (US$3.8 billion) – one of the costliest flood events in Canada’s history. Preliminary insured loss estimates were cited at more than C$1.1 billion (US$1.0 billion).”

Monsoon rainfall inundated northern India and Nepal, triggering massive flooding and landslides that left at least 5,000 people dead or missing, and caused catastrophic damage, especially in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Much of the damage occurred along the Ganges, Yamuna and Ghaghara rivers and their tributaries as tens of thousands of homes, businesses and other structures were washed away.

Total economic losses were cited as more than INR65 billion ($1.1 billion), with insured losses expected to reach INR30 billion ($500 million).

Steve Jakubowski, President of Impact Forecasting, said: “Flooding is becoming an increasingly expensive and devastating peril globally, and we continue to work with our clients to help them understand and manage their exposures. We have now developed flood models for six European countries with significant flood risk, and also for the U.S. and Thailand, which are helping insurers and reinsurers to manage their aggregated exposures in these regions.

“Aon Benfield’s experts are also working with the British government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to help formulate and implement a solution that will address the future challenges of insuring flood risk in the United Kingdom.”

Severe weather in the U.S. also figures in the report, where storms and tornadoes across the central and eastern United States throughout June, caused “at least six deaths and widespread damage. The inclement weather included at least two derecho events that spawned damaging straight-line winds across several states,” the report noted.

The total June economic cost of severe thunderstorms was expected to exceed $1.0 billion, with insured losses in excess of $500 million.

In addition to the floods, Europe also experienced some severe weather in June with “powerful thunderstorms” that resulted in “tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flash flooding across parts of France, Spain and Switzerland during the month.

“In France, severe damage was recorded in several departments including Hautes-Pyrenees, Pyrenees-Atlantiques and Côte-d’Or, with economic losses estimated at €500 million ($655 million).

“In Switzerland, insured losses from severe weather in an area from Geneva to Laussane and the Jura to Neuchatel was estimated at CHF200 million ($214 million).

“Additional severe weather occurred in Sri Lanka, China and South Africa.”

The U.S. also experienced a number of forest fires in June, notably the Black Forest Fire, which the report said “became the most damaging fire in Colorado’s history, killing two people, charring 14,280 acres (5,778 hectares) of land, and destroying at least 511 homes.

“Insurers received at least 4,500 claims, resulting in payouts in excess of $350 million. Dozens of destroyed homes were uninsured or underinsured, which will push the overall economic loss beyond $500 million.”

Two tropical storms in the Atlantic made landfall in June, including Tropical Storm Andrea that came ashore in Florida’s Big Bend region and tracked along the U.S. East Coast, causing minimal damage.

Tropical Storm Barry made landfall in Mexico, killing at least three people. Flood damage was also prevalent in Mexico, Belize and El Salvador.

Tropical Storm Bebinca made separate landfalls in China and Vietnam, causing $45 million in agricultural losses.

In the Southern hemisphere, the report said a “strong winter storm brought heavy snow, rain and gusty winds across parts of New Zealand. The Insurance Council of New Zealand anticipated insured losses to be in the region of NZ$40 million (US$31 million).

Source: Impact Forecasting/Aon Benfield

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