July’s European Floods Generated Largest Non-U.S. Insurance Industry Loss in 2021

October 7, 2021

The extreme flooding event in Western Europe in mid-July generated the largest insurance industry loss figure so far this year – at current estimates of US$11.0 billion, according to CRESTA, the insurance industry organization that provides a global standard for risk aggregation zones and catastrophe industry losses.

The CRESTA Industry Loss Index, or CLIX, provides industry loss data on international catastrophe events (excluding the U.S.), which have generated industry losses in excess of US$1 billion. In its latest third quarter update, a total of 33 cat events, which occurred during the past three years, were reviewed and updated where new information is available.

June’s severe convective storms in Europe generated the second highest insured loss event so far this year, with an industry loss of US$5.1 billion, said CLIX. This was followed by the Fukushima earthquake in Japan in February 2021, with an industry loss of US$2.5 billion.

The third quarter also witnessed another significant industry loss in China’s Henan province when extreme rainfall in July caused flood-related industry losses of US$1.9 billion, representing the largest catastrophe loss ever for the Chinese insurance market.

While the weather patterns are not directly comparable, it is striking that three of these events are linked to bursts of extreme precipitation during the summer months which caused devasting flooding and hail, said a statement issued by CLIX.

This is in line with climate-related model forecasts, which indicate an increase in severity and frequency of extreme precipitation events resulting from higher temperatures and increased water-holding capacity in the atmosphere, added CLIX.

Coupled with the growth in insured assets, this ever-changing risk landscape creates a formidable challenge for the insurance industry, it continued.

The European floods occurred on July 12-18 and mainly affected Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Austria, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom were also affected, but to a much lesser extent. Unlike in previous major flood events in Europe (2002, 2013), which were dominated by slow-moving flood waves running downstream along major rivers, the 2021 floods were characterized by bursts of devastating flash flooding in small- and medium-scale river catchments. The floods caused extensive property and infrastructure damage and resulted in at least 240 deaths.

“The benign period in international cat industry losses in 2020 and until early 2021 changed dramatically in June when severe convective storms in Europe brought extreme rainfall and hail, causing significant damage primarily across Germany and Switzerland,” commented Matthias Saenger, technical manager of CLIX, in a statement. “These storms were followed by the major flood events in July in Europe and China, which generated record losses for the insurance industry.”

He explained that the the primary role of CLIX is to provide consistent and coherent data for major industry losses since the year 2000.

As our Index expands, we would expect that the predicted trends in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events which have been indicated by climate-focused model projections will become increasingly evident in this time series,” he said.

Access to CRESTA’s CLIX database is via subscription.

About CLIX

CLIX is a service provided by CRESTA and offers benchmark information on natural catastrophe losses incurred by the global insurance industry. The CLIX database provides key information for all major catastrope events since 2000. The geographic coverage of the database is global, excluding the U.S. CLIX industry losses are reviewed quarterly up to a maximum of three years after the event.


The CRESTA organization was established by the insurance and reinsurance industry in 1977 as an independent body for the technical management of natural catastrophe insurance. Its manager is PERILS CRESTA AG, a subsidiary of Zurich-based PERILS AG. CRESTA’s main goal is to establish and maintain a uniform global system for the exchange, comparison, visualization and modeling of aggregated insurance data used for risk accumulation control and risk assessment, among other uses.


Photograph: Debris in a street after flooding in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr, western Germany, on July 15, 2021. Photo credit: Bernd Lauter/AFP/Getty Images


Topics USA Profit Loss Flood Europe Market

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