Insured Losses for Europe’s Storm Ciara-Sabine Could Hit $2 Billion: Modeling Firms

Catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimates that insured losses due to wind from Europe’s winter storm Ciara (also known as Sabine) will range between €1.1 billion and €1.9 billion (US$1.2 billion and US$2.1 billion), with the majority of claims expected in Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

RMS’ estimates were in the same range – €1.1 billion to €1.8 billion (US$1.2 billion and US$1.95 billion), with Germany’s insured losses accounting for around 50% of the total price tag.

Discussing the storm’s path, AIR said, Ciara was officially named on Wednesday, Feb. 5, by the UK Met Office, the third named storm this winter season. Ciara struck parts of Ireland and the UK on Sunday, Feb. 9, then moved to Europe where it was named Sabine in Germany. It also hit France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway (where it was named Elsa), and other European countries.

In addition to significant wind damage, AIR said, Storm Ciara caused coastal and inland flooding in the UK and downed trees and power lines, which caused 675,000 homes to lose electricity, while 10,000 homes were affected in Ireland. Power outages also hit thousands of homes in Germany and France and power cuts affected nearly 500,000 people across Europe, said AIR.

Hundreds of flights were canceled in the UK, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, while long-distance train service was suspended in Germany. In addition, the ports of Dover, England, and Calais, France, were shut down, said AIR, noting that storm surge affected Hamburg after Sabine caused the Elbe River to rise.

“Windstorm Ciara is very likely to be the first billion-Euro windstorm of this season. This event exhibited characteristics typical of European windstorms, with low gusty winds causing widespread damage across several countries, and is most comparable to Windstorm Emma in 2008,” said Michèle Lai, product manager for Europe Climate Models at RMS.

“Our loss range represents the current uncertainty in the event loss, which is primarily driven by prolonged, squally gusts that locally affected several regions across the continent,” Lai continued.

AIR said its modeled insured loss estimates include: Insured physical damage from wind to property (residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and auto), including structures and their contents, as well as business interruption and additional living expenses.

RMS said its loss estimate includes damage to property, auto, forestry, agriculture, and direct business interruption but excludes losses from damage to infrastructure. RMS does not expect any post-event loss amplification and anticipates low business interruption losses. Losses from auto are not expected to exceed more than 5% of the total loss, said RMS.

AIR’s modeled insured loss estimates do not include: Losses due to coastal or inland flooding; additional living expenses (ALE) for residential claims for all modeled countries, except the UK; losses to uninsured properties; losses to infrastructure and demand surge.

Source: AIR Worldwide and RMS

Photograph: A view of a flooded street after the River Ouse burst its banks in the aftermath of Storm Ciara, in York, England, on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Storm Ciara battered the U.K. and northern Europe with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA via AP.

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