Tacloban After Typhoon Haiyan Hit
Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan hit

Swiss Re Group a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer, produces a pretty fascinating report on the catastrophic losses of the year.  Really!  It is a good read!

This week they issued the initial report as the year is moving towards a close.  Good news for insurance companies: Insured losses fell to $44 billion from $81 billion in 2012.  Flooding was a theme in 2013 disasters.

  • Total economic losses from disasters reached USD 130 billion in 2013 worldwide
  • Insured global losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters totaled USD 44 billion, with flooding a major driver
  • Around 25 000 lives were lost as a result of natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2013

The big killer? Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

In November, Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines with some of the strongest winds ever recorded, heavy rains and storm surges. Haiyan has claimed more than 7 000 lives, which is the highest loss of life from a single event in 2013. Despite the devastation wreaked, insured losses are expected to be modest as insurance penetration is low in the country.

The big story? Flooding causes extensive damage across all continents

Flooding affected large areas of central and eastern Europe in June 2013 created overall losses of USD 18 billion, with insured losses estimated at USD 4 billion. The June flooding ranks as the second most expensive fresh water flood event on sigma records, but is a distant second to the 2011 Thailand flood which led to insured claims of over USD 16 billion.

Also in June, rain-induced flooding hit Alberta, Canada, causing insured losses of nearly USD 2 billion, the highest ever recorded in the country for any disaster. There were also heavy rains and floods in Australia, India, China, Indonesia, Southern Africa and Argentina this year.

Its all about the weather!

European severe weather events feature prominently
In addition to floods, Europe suffered a number of other severe weather events, including hail and windstorms. Hailstorm Andreas battered Germany and France in July, resulting in insured losses of USD 3 billion. Later in the year, Windstorm Christian in central and northern Europe is estimated to have caused more than USD 1 billion in insured claims. The more recent Windstorm Xaver in the same region has triggered additional insured losses of around USD 1 billion.

The U.S. Story – Weather events but thankfully a calm hurricane season

Harsh spring and autumn weather spawned severe thunderstorms and deadly tornadoes in the US, which brought devastation of properties and hefty losses to the insurance industry. However, the 2013 North Atlantic hurricane season was benign.