August’s Natural Disasters Caused $10B in Economic Damage: Aon Benfield

September 6, 2013

August saw billion-dollar flood losses in China, Russia, Philippines and Pakistan, bringing an initial combined estimate of $10 billion in economic losses, Aon Benfield said in a report on natural disaster perils.

According to the report by the firm’s Impact Forecasting catastrophe model center, persistent rainfall caused flooding across much of China during the month of August, with Heilongjiang Province sustaining much of the damage. According to available data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), nationwide totals during August showed that more than 260 people died, at least 306,000 homes and structures were damaged, and the aggregate economic loss was at least CNY32 billion (USD5.3 billion).

Across China’s northeast border, torrential rains led to the worst flooding in at least 120 years in Russia’s Far East. The Ministry of Emergency Situations reported that a combined 6,964 homes and 3,762 summer cottages were damaged. More than 627,000 hectares (1.55 million acres) of agricultural land was also submerged. Total economic losses were estimated by the government at RUB30 billion (USD1.0 billion).

Exceptional rains (enhanced by the passage of Typhoon Trami) also fell across the Philippines. At the peak of the event, 60% of metro Manila was under water. A government official estimated overall damages at PHP97.3 billion (USD2.2 billion).

In Pakistan, monsoon rains caused significant flooding that affected more than 5,739 villages nationwide. At least 208 people were killed, 63,180 homes were damaged or destroyed, and 1.4 million acres (567,000 hectares) of crops were submerged. The government estimated economic agricultural losses alone at PKR200 billion (USD1.9 billion)

Steve Jakubowski, president of Impact Forecasting, said that economic losses from flood events have equated to more than 40 percent of overall losses sustained this year. “This highlights the need for insurers to further appreciate the impact of the flood peril through improved analysis and understanding of significant events and utilizing that learning curve to further strengthen the development, and usage, of catastrophe models,” he said.

Meanwhile, Super Typhoon Utor made separate landfalls in the Philippines and China. The Philippines’ Luzon Island incurred damage to 21,153 homes in addition to agricultural and infrastructure economic losses topping PHP1.4 billion (USD33 million). In China, Utor’s remnants prompted days of torrential rains in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Hunan provinces. Seventy people were killed as economic losses topped CNY16 billion (USD2.6 billion).

A severe weather event affected the Midwest and the Plains in the United States early in August, killing at least two people. The states of Minnesota and Wisconsin were the hardest-hit, where up to baseball-sized hail and straight-line winds gusting beyond 80 mph (130 kph) were recorded. Total economic losses were estimated at USD1.0 billion, with insured losses in excess of USD625 million.

Further, a series of earthquakes rattled New Zealand’s upper South Island and lower North Island, causing varying levels of damage to buildings and infrastructure. No serious injuries or fatalities were recorded. The main USGS-registered magnitude-6.5 tremor struck near the town of Seddon. The New Zealand Earthquake Commission received 2,945 claims, and overall losses were not expected to be significant.

The Rim Fire became the fourth-largest wildfire in California’s history. At least 111 structures were destroyed (including 11 homes) in Tuolumne County. Total costs to fight the blaze topped USD72 million.

A week of extreme winter weather left 15 people dead in Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay.

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