Disaster strikes


According to a new catastrophe report from global reinsurance intermediary Aon Benfield, severe weather in the US is expected to cost insurers more than US$2 billion in March.

The monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during March 2017, found that an extremely active period for severe weather persisted in the US throughout March, as four separate significant outbreaks led to extensive damage in central and eastern parts of the country.

According to the report, the most prolific outbreak – from 6 to 10 March – resulted in major damage from tornadoes, large hail and straight-line winds in the Plains, Midwest and Southeast. Total economic losses for this event alone were estimated at $1.7 billion, while public and private insurance claims were listed at $1.2 billion. The aggregated cost to the insurance industry from the four events was expected to exceed $2 billion.

In Australia, meanwhile, Cyclone Debbie caused flooding that killed 10 people in southeastern Queensland and northern New South Wales. The Insurance Council of Australia declared an insurance catastrophe following extensive wind and flood damage, and preliminary data indicated that 35,370 claims had been initially filed, with insurance payouts exceeding $310 million. These totals were expected to rise, and the overall economic cost is forecast to be even higher.

“There was no shortage of significant natural disasters in March, and while re/insurers’ focus was largely on the events in the US and Australia, there were other major occurrences in emerging areas for the industry,” said Steve Bowen, impact forecasting director and meteorologist. “For instance, a phenomenon deemed a ‘coastal El Niño’ was blamed on catastrophic flooding in both Peru and Colombia, highlighting that there remain areas around the world where insurance can play a critical role in helping people in the aftermath of a disaster.”