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Sigma: H1 2013 global insured catastrophe losses $20 billion plus


Reinsurance firm Swiss Re’s sigma unit, which analyses and quantifies economic and insured losses from natural and man-made catastrophe events in its reports, has put an estimate on global catastrophe losses from the first-half of 2013 at $56 billion of economic losses and over $20 billion of insured losses.

These are preliminary estimates from sigma and will likely be firmed up at the end of the year once further details on the extent of some of these loss events is fully understood.

The global insurance industry is on the hook for more than $20 billion of insured losses from natural and man-made catastrophe events in the first six months of the year, with $17 billion caused by natural catastrophe events where flooding around the world has been a major factor this year.

Economic losses of $56 billion are below the $67 billion of the first-half of 2012, while the $20 billion of insured losses is currently below 2012’s $21 billion but this years number could well rise by the time the estimates are finalised by sigma. Man-made disasters accounted for $3 billion of insured losses, approximately the same as in the first-half of 2012.

Flooding showed its potential as a creator of catastrophic losses in 2013, causing an estimated $8 billion of insured losses globally. As a result of this, 2013 is already the second most expensive full year in terms of flood insurance losses on record at sigma, a number that is rising by the day with ongoing flood events in the Russian far east, China and the Philippines. 2011 is the top year for flood insured losses thanks to the Thailand event which caused insured losses of more than $16 billion.

The European flood events in June are estimated to have caused economic losses of near to $18 billion and insured losses of $4.1 billion, which makes it the second most expensive flood catastrophe in sigma’s records. Meanwhile the Alberta, Canada floods caused over $2 billion in insured losses making it the most expensive Canadian insured loss event on record.

Other flood events included Cyclone Oswald in Australia in January which caused $1 billion of insured losses, as well as flood events in India, Southern Africa, Indonesia and Argentina.

Jens Mehlhorn, Head of Flood Risk at Swiss Re, commented; “Flooding continues to wreak havoc across all areas of the world. No one is immune from this ever-present disaster threat. Sadly, without insurance, the impact of these events is severe for many. While we cannot stop future floods, we believe that preventative actions can be taken to mitigate the overall impact of extreme weather events.”

Thunderstorms and tornadoes also showed their potential to create catastrophic loss, with the Moore, Oklahoma outbreak in May causing the loss of 28 lives and insured claims of $1.8 billion. Another $7 billion of insured losses resulted from other natural catastrophe and man-made disasters around the world in the first-half.

Kurt Karl, Chief Economist at Swiss Re, said; “Though 2013 has so far been a below-average loss year, the severity of the ongoing North Atlantic hurricane season, and other disasters such as winter storms in Europe, could still increase insured losses for 2013 substantially.”

The charts below show the top catastrophe loss events of the first-half of 2013 and insured and uninsured catastrophe losses by year.

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Most expensive insured catastrophe losses H1 2013

Most expensive insured catastrophe losses H1 2013 - Source: Swiss Re sigma

Insured and uninsured catastrophe losses by year

Insured and uninsured catastrophe losses by year - Source: Swiss Re sigma

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