Weather Events in U.S., Australia Cost Insurers $1B+ in February: Aon

March 9, 2017

Insurers face claims of more than US$1.0 billion as a result of severe weather events in the U.S. and Australia during February, according to a report published by Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team.

The report discussed the five outbreaks of severe weather, which hit the United States during February. One of these weather events comprised 60 confirmed tornado touch-downs in the Midwest, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic and brought total economic and insured losses of hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars, said the report, titled “Global Catastrophe Recap – February 2017.”

Among the hardest-hit states were Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee, as large hail and damaging winds also caused substantial impacts to homes, businesses, vehicles and other structures, the report continued.

Meanwhile, Windstorm Thomas became the costliest European windstorm of the year when it struck Western and Central Europe, killing three people. Preliminary insured loss estimates were above €100 million (US$105 million) in both the U.K. and Germany, Aon Benfield said.

In New South Wales, Australia, a series of powerful thunderstorms led to widespread damage and disruption, which also hit the greater Sydney metro area. The Insurance Council of Australia and local insurers reported that at least 48,000 claims had been filed with payouts of at least A$330 million (US$250 million), the Impact Forecasting report said, noting that economic losses were even higher.

“While the United States endured another active and costly month from severe thunderstorms, it was not the only region coping with major losses from the peril,” said Claire Darbinyan, associate director and meteorologist, Impact Forecasting.

“Australian insurers continue to take stock following a major hail event in New South Wales, including the greater Sydney metro region. Given further growth of exposures, hail events will remain a major focus of the insurance industry,” Darbinyan added

Other natural hazard events that occurred during February include:

  • California storm systems killed at least eight people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. One event saw the evacuation of 200,000 residents as Lake Oroville reached full capacity.
  • Two U.S. winter weather outbreaks caused widespread disruption in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
  • Major flood events occurred in Peru, Chile, Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Australia.
  • Winter storms in Afghanistan and Pakistan triggered avalanches that killed more than 200 people.
  • Cyclone Dineo made landfall in Mozambique, killing at least seven people and injuring 101 others. More than 105,000 homes and 2,000 other buildings were damaged or destroyed while flooding devastated the local agricultural industry. Economic losses were listed at MZN1.2 billion (US$17 million).
  • An outbreak of wildfires in Australia’s New South Wales was sparked amid record-breaking heatwave conditions. More than 100 homes and other structures were damaged or destroyed. The Insurance Council of Australia reported that insured losses minimally reached A$20 million (US$15 million).
  • A magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck the southern Philippines killing eight people and injuring hundreds more. Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed as economic losses were listed at PHP720 million (US$14 million). A further PHP2.0 billion (US$40 million) was made available for repairs.

The full Impact Forecasting Global Catastrophe Recap report, can be viewed on the Aon Benfield website.

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