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Costliest year on record for weather disasters with USD344 billion global economic loss in 2017 - Aon catastrophe report

01/24/2018

All natural disasters cost USD353 billion, with insurance industry in position to handle high volume of claims payouts and explore future growth to build resilience in underinsured regions

CHICAGO, Jan. 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield's catastrophe model development team, today launches its Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight: 2017 Annual Report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during 2017 to promote awareness and enhance resilience. Aon Benfield is the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon plc (NYSE:AON).

The report reveals that there were 330 natural catastrophe events in 2017 that generated economic losses of USD353 billion – of which 97 percent (USD344 billion) was due to weather-related events, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in the US and Caribbean, plus Typhoon Hato in China and Cyclone Debbie in Australia. For historical context, 2017's natural catastrophe losses were 93 percent higher versus the 2000-2016 average.

Insured losses to the private sector and government-sponsored programs were among the costliest ever incurred, reaching USD134 billion in 2017 – just behind the record USD137 billion in 2011. This is 139 percent higher than last year's USD56 billion, primarily due to high insurance penetration in the US that suffered a very active Atlantic hurricane season, severe weather events (convective storms) and wildfires.

Eric Andersen, CEO of Aon Benfield, commented: "While 2017 was an expensive year for the insurance industry, the reinsurance market had an estimated USD600 billion in available capital to withstand the high volume of payouts. Most critically, the US weather and wildfire events in particular have demonstrated the value of reinsurance, with claims being paid in an average of eight days to augment the recovery process."

Additional key findings include:

  • 36 percent (USD80 billion) of economic damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria was insured
  • 31 billion-dollar events occurred globally, with 16 alone in the US
  • Wildfires caused USD14 billion of insurance losses in 2017 – the highest on record for the peril
  • 10,000 human fatalities were caused by natural disasters, with the deadliest event being a massive landslide event in Sierra Leone when more than 1,100 people lost their lives
  • 2017 was the third warmest year on record since 1880 for combined land and ocean temperatures.

Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist, said: "The high cost of disasters in 2017 served as a reminder that we continue to face increasing levels of risk as more people and exposures are located in areas that are particularly vulnerable to major, naturally occurring events. As weather scenarios grow more volatile in their size and potential impact, it becomes more imperative than ever to identify ways to increase awareness, improve communication, and lower the insurance protection gap. We know natural disasters are going to occur. The question is how prepared are we going to be when the next one strikes."

Other significant events during the year included:

  • An October wildfire outbreak, the most destructive ever recorded in the US state of California, caused nearly USD13 billion in economic damage
  • Substantial summer flooding causing more than USD12 billion in damage across China
  • Southern Europe endured an extended drought during the summer and autumn months that caused USD6.6 billion in damage across parts of Spain, Italy and Portugal
  • Elsewhere in Europe, the costliest thunderstorm event of the year affected central sections of the continent, particularly Poland, and left a damage bill of nearly USD800 million
  • In Mexico, two powerful earthquakes in September led to nearly USD6.0 billion in combined economic losses, including major damage across Mexico City on the 32nd anniversary of its historic 1985 tremor.

Read the full Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight: 2017 Annual Report: http://aon.io/ab-if-annual-report-2017

Watch meteorologist and author Steve Bowen's short film on the key findings of the report: http://aon.io/2DASXK2

Access current and historical natural catastrophe data, plus event analysis, on Impact Forecasting's Catastrophe Insight website

Notes to editors

Top 10 Global Economic Loss Events

Date(s)

Event

Location

Deaths

Economic Loss (USD)

Insured Loss (USD)

Aug.25 – Sept.2

Hurricane Harvey

United States

90

~100 billion

~30 billion

September 18-22

Hurricane Maria

Caribbean Islands

651

~65 billion

~27 billion

September 4-12

Hurricane Irma

U.S., Caribbean Islands

134

~55 billion

~23 billion

October

Wildfires

United States

43

13 billion

11 billion

Summer

Flooding

China

116

7.5 billion

300 million

Summer & Autumn

Drought

Southern Europe

N/A

6.6 billion

700 million

September 19

Earthquake

Mexico

370

4.5 billion

1 billion

July

Flooding

China

37

4.5 billion

125 million

August 23-25

Typhoon Hato

China

22

3.5 billion

250 million

May 8-11

Severe Weather

United States

0

3.4 billion

2.6 billion


All Other Events

87 billion

38 billion


Totals

334 billion1

134 billion1,2


1 Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed


2 Includes losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs

Further information

For further information please contact the Aon Benfield team: Alexandra Lewis (+44 207 086 0541), Andrew Wragg or David Bogg

Follow Aon on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Aon_plc 
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Aon plc (http://www.aon.com) is a leading global provider of risk management, insurance brokerage and reinsurance brokerage, and human resources solutions and outsourcing services. Through its more than 72,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon unites to empower results for clients in over 120 countries via innovative risk and people solutions. For further information on our capabilities and to learn how we empower results for clients, please visit: http://aon.mediaroom.com. (PRNewsFoto/Aon Corporation) (PRNewsfoto/Aon plc)

 

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SOURCE Aon plc

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