Hurricane Barry Cost Economy $600M, Insurers $300M: Aon Catastrophe Report

August 9, 2019

Total economic losses, largely flood-driven, were expected to exceed US$600 million, while public and private insurers paid out nearly US$300 million, said Aon in its latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events.

Hurricane Barry made landfall in Louisiana during July, establishing a new state record for the highest hurricane-induced rainfall of 16.59 inches in Arkansas, the report said, noting that five states have now set new hurricane-related rainfall records since 2017 alone: Texas, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Arkansas.

The Category 1 storm came ashore near Intracoastal City, La. before quickly weakening, the report added. The storm’s remnants later led to flood and thunderstorm damage across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Southern Asia Flooding

Turning to other global events during July, Aon said that monsoonal flooding across Southern Asia killed hundreds, flooding an estimated 600,000 homes in Bangladesh. These floods incurred a notable economic loss.

According to reports, more than 467 people have been killed this season in India and many thousands of acres of cropland were destroyed. The states of Assam, Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were among the worst affected. Economic losses were expected to reach well into millions of U.S. dollars with significant costs to agriculture and infrastructure.

European Heatwave

Another record-breaking heatwave hit multiple European countries at the end of July, a month after the first wave of record heat in June. Five countries recorded all-time national highs – Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and United Kingdom. Extreme heat, coupled with relatively low rainfall in some regions, caused notable health impacts and likely affected multiple economic sectors.

“The summer of 2019 has thus far highlighted several meteorological and climatological hazards across the Northern Hemisphere and further exposed humanitarian vulnerabilities,” said Steve Bowen, Meteorologist and head of Catastrophe Insight within Aon’s Impact Forecasting team.

“Parts of Europe and the Arctic have endured record-breaking heat which has resulted in an accelerated seasonal decline of polar sea ice, exacerbated wildfires and enhanced drought conditions,” he said. “At the same time, seasonal flooding across Asia has affected millions of people.”

He said issue of climate resilience becomes even more important, “as we continue to face further population and exposure growth in regions, which are among the most at-risk as climate conditions evolve…”

The report detailed other natural catastrophe events that occurred elsewhere during July including:

  • A series of thunderstorm outbreaks across the United States led to considerable hail and damaging wind impacts throughout the month of July. Several of the outbreaks were initiated by record heat that covered much of the country. Total combined economic losses were expected to approach US$2.0 billion, with insurers covering a majority of the damage.
  • Two of strongest earthquakes to strike Southern California since 1999 occurred during the first week of July: a magnitude-6.4 foreshock on July 4 and a magnitude-7.1 mainshock on July 5. Total economic damage to infrastructure, property, and indoor contents was expected to approach US$200 million while insured losses are estimated to be less than US$50 million.
  • A notable outbreak of severe weather hit France, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Austria at the beginning of July. Damage, mostly associated with large hail and severe winds, resulted in insurance payouts minimally reaching into the tens of millions of U.S. dollars.
  • A combination of large hail, strong winds and urban flooding resulted in tens of millions of losses in Slovenia and Croatia. Among the hardest hit were Ptuj, Slovenia (flood, wind) and Vukovar, Trpinja and Drenovec in Croatia (hail).
  • Severe storms produced large hail across eastern Spain, damaging at least 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of crops. Additionally, flash floods in the Navarra region resulted in insurance payouts of €16 million.
  • A magnitude-5.7 earthquake struck Iran on July 8. The epicenter of the tremblor was located 28 kilometers (17 miles) southeast of Masjed Soleyman in Khuzestan. The earthquake left one dead, 125 injured, and widespread minor damage to 56 villages near the epicenter.
  • Heavy rains triggered a landslide near Asni, south of Marrakech in Morocco on July 24, killing 15 people.
  • Seasonal rainfall associated with the Mei-yu frontal boundary brought additional flooding across southern sections of China within the Yangtze River Basin and northern China in July. At least 112 people were left dead or missing across the provincial regions of Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangxi, Fujian, Zhejiang, Chongqing, Guizhou, and Heilongjiang. Data from China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said 26,000 homes were destroyed, and 195,000 hectares (482,000 acres) of cropland was damaged. Total economic losses during this time exceeded CNY47 billion (US$6.8 billion). The seasonal combined economic flood cost rose to roughly US$12 billion.

Source: Aon

Photograph: In this July 13, 2019 photo Aimee Cutter, the owner of Beach House restaurant, walks through water surge from Lake Pontchartrain on Lakeshore Drive in Mandeville, La., ahead of Tropical Storm Barry. Photographer: Matthew Hinton/AP).

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