January Windstorms to Cost Europe’s Insurers More Than $2B: Aon

February 9, 2018

European windstorms Friederike, Eleanor and Carmen wreaked widespread damage in January, causing insured losses of more than $2 billion, according to a report published by Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team.

Of the Atlantic storm systems that hit Western and Central Europe during the month, the most significant was Windstorm Friederike, the report confirmed. Hurricane-force wind gusts and heavy rainfall affected Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom, with at least 13 people killed, said the report titled “Global Catastrophe Recap January 2018.”

Windstorm Friederike was the costliest windstorm in the country since Windstorm Kyrill in 2007, with preliminary payouts listed at approximately €1 billion (US$1.24 billion), said the report quoting the German Insurance Association (GDV). Additional payouts exceeding €100 million (US$125 million) were reported by other regional insurance groups, said the report, which noted that overall economic losses were even higher.

Windstorms Eleanor and Carmen also roared through Western and Central Europe during the month, killing at least seven people and causing damage in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, and Switzerland. Preliminary insured losses were listed in the hundreds of millions of euros, the report added.

“A meteorologically active January resulted in elevated windstorm losses in Europe,” said Michal Lörinc, an analyst with Impact Forecasting’s Catastrophe Insight team.

“When looking at the combined effect of storms Friederike, Eleanor and Carmen, windstorm-related economic and insured losses in Europe are already comparable to the annual totals recorded throughout 2017,” he said.

Impact Forecasting recounted other global natural disaster events in January include:

  • A powerful storm system and significant cold affected much of the central and eastern United States during the first week of January, killing at least 22 people. Total economic damage was estimated at US$1.1 billion, while public and private insurers were expected to pay up to US$750 million in claims.
  • Numerous areas of low pressure and extended periods of frigid temperatures affected Northern and Eastern China. The greatest impacts were noted to the agricultural sector in Jiangsu, Anhui, Hebei, and Hunan. The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) cited winter weather damage of at least US$1.8 billion.
  • Additional wintry weather led to casualties and damage in Japan, India, Nepal, Canada, and Lebanon.
  • Heavy rainfall swept across the state of California, prompting flash flooding, mudslides and debris flow in areas previously impacted by major December 2017 wildfires, killing at least 21 people. An official assessment from Cal Fire cited that 129 single family residences and six commercial properties were destroyed and another 307 homes and 17 commercial properties were damaged. Total economic damage was expected to reach well into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Persistent heavy rainfall recorded in Northern and Eastern France led to flooding along multiple rivers and streams, with some of the most notable impacts occurring in the Île-de-France region. Preliminary damage assessments suggested that the cost of the current flooding may reach the hundreds of millions of euros.
  • Other flood events were noted in Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and the Philippines.
  • Two cyclones in the South West Indian Ocean led to widespread damage. Cyclone Ava left at least 73 people left dead or missing in Madagascar, while Cyclone Berguitta caused extensive damage in Mauritius and La Reunion.
  • A magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck just offshore Peru’s northern coast on Jan. 14, killing at least two people, injuring 137 others, and damaging or destroying 2,541 homes and other structures.

Source: Impact Forecasting/Aon Benfield

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