Global insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in the first half of 2017 totaled US$23 billion, while economic losses during the same period came to US$44 billion – an indication of the extent of the protection gap that exists across the globe.
These figures are included in a report on disaster losses published by “sigma,” Swiss Re’s industry research unit.
As a result of fewer and less intense natural and man-made events, both insured and economic losses during the first half were down significantly from H1 2016 when insured losses totaled US$36 billion, and economic – or uninsured losses – were US$117 billion.
Breaking down the global insured loss total of US$23 billion, sigma said that natural catastrophes during the half came to US$20 billion, down from US$30 billion in H1 2016, while insured losses from man-made disasters were US$3 billion, down from US$6 billion last year.
As for the economic total of $44 billion, sigma said that natural catastrophes accounted for US$41 billion in the first half of 2017, compared with US$110 billion in H1 2016. The remaining US$3 billion in H1 2017 came from man-made disasters.
Further, sigma noted, the $44 billion in economic losses reported during H1 2017 were well below the first half annual average of US$120 billion of the last 10 years.
Global deaths from disaster deaths also decreased during the first half when around 4,400 people lost their lives or went missing, compared with 4,800 in the first six months of 2016. However, the report said the H1 2017 toll may rise once estimates on the number of victims of Europe’s severe June heat waves are included.
A Year of Weather Extremes
A series of severe thunderstorms in the U.S. caused some of the largest losses in the first half of 2017, the sigma report said.
Severe convective storms, or thunderstorms, in the U.S. resulted in the largest losses in the first six months of this year, the report said.
Four separate weather events from February to May each had insured losses of more than US$1 billion, the report noted.
“The most intense and costly event was a four-day long storm in May with heavy damage to property inflicted by hail in Colorado and strong winds in other parts of southern and central states,” the report said, noting that the economic losses of this storm alone were US$2.2 billion, with insured losses of US$1.9 billion.
“Fortunately, in the U.S., most households and businesses are insured against wind risk so they are financially protected when severe storms strike,” says Swiss Re’s Chief Economist Kurt Karl.
The largest and most costly insurance event outside of the U.S. was Cyclone Debbie, a Category 4 tropical cyclone that hit the northeastern coast of Australia in late March and led to insured losses of US$1.3 billion.
The report cited other large events during the first half, including:
- Floods in Peru
- Severe frost damage in late spring in Europe and in the southeastern part of the U.S.
- A European cold spell early in the year that claimed dozens of hypothermia victims.
- Record high temperatures during summer heat waves in several European locations.
- High temperatures and dry weather have continued during the northern hemisphere’s summer season, igniting wildfires in many parts of the world.
Source: Swiss Re’s sigma
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