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Wildfires, tropical storms, monsoons make for a costly September: Aon


Wildfires burning across the United States, tropical storms and hurricanes, and monsoonal rainfall have all driven billions of losses across the globe in September 2020, according to Aon’s Impact Forecasting.

Weather image from DreamaticoThe catastrophe risk analysis and forecasting unit of the insurance and reinsurance broker highlights the high levels of economic impacts seen during the month, with the U.S. wildfires and hurricane Sally set to be the largest impacts on an insurance and reinsurance basis.

However, the most costly catastrophe event highlighted in the latest report from Impact Forecasting was actually the monsoon rains in China and more broadly across Asia.

Aon’s Impact Forecasting estimates that seasonal monsoon flooding across Asia in 2020 has cost around US $45 billion in economic terms.

In China alone, the flooding continued in September with officials noting that flooding in some parts of the country was the worst since 1998.

This season more than 1.4 million houses have been damaged or destroyed since the arrival of Mei-yu monsoon rains this year in China, resulting in economic costs of around US $32 billion for the season.

The significant wildfires that continued to burn across parts of the United States throughout September.

In California, five of the state’s six largest fire events since 1932 were recorded in August and September, Impact Forecasting explained, and another five of the state’s top 20 most destructive fires on record.

The broker unit said that direct economic costs from the fires across California, Oregon and Washington are likely to reach well into the billions of dollars, which it believes will certainly be a multi-billion-dollar payout for insurance and reinsurance capital providers.

Hurricane Sally was the other significant event for the industry in September, driving economic losses estimated above $5 billion, while public and private insurance market losses will exceed $2.5 billion, Impact Forecasting said.

Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist on the Impact Forecasting team at Aon, commented on the months catastrophe activity, “The third quarter is historically the costliest of the year given the peak of tropical cyclone season in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean Basins.

“While September did result in notable storm landfalls in the United States, Belize, South Korea, and Portugal, the re-emergence of the wildfire peril captured a significant number of headlines. Historic fires from the perspective of structures lost and acres burned left a lasting impact in the Western United States. The wildfires, which were amplified by hot and dry weather in combination with abundant available fuel, ensured a record sixth consecutive multi-billion-dollar payout year for global insurers with this peril.

“This comes as the industry continues to put more focus on the increased annual costs arising from secondary perils.”

Other catastrophe and severe weather events highlighted by Aon from September include:

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  • Tropical Storm Beta made landfall along the southern end of the Matagorda Peninsula near Port O’Connor, Texas, on September 21, bringing heavy rainfall and flash flooding to coastal Texas and Louisiana. One of the top five wettest three-day rainfall totals on record in Houston was recorded, along with major flooding elsewhere in Harris County, Texas. Total economic losses were estimated to exceed $100 million.
  • Medicane Ianos brought rough seas, damaging winds and flooding rainfall to western and southern regions of Greece between September 17-20. The most significant impacts occurred in portions of the Ionian Islands and Thessaly. Economic impacts were expected to exceed $100 million.
  • Hurricane Nana made landfall along the coast of Belize on September 3, bringing flooding rains to portions of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico. Notable crop damage occurred in Belize, and total combined economic losses were estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.
  • Typhoon Maysak made landfall in South Korea on September 3, causing notable damage to nearly 2,000 facilities and 5,000 hectares (12,500 acres). The storm later affected the eastern parts of North Korea, China and Russia, causing at least 30 additional casualties and damage to 9,200 houses. A few days later, Typhoon Haishen came ashore near the coastal city of Ulsan, South Korea, with 160 kph (100 mph) winds. Around 10,000 combined houses were damaged or destroyed. Economic losses from each of the storms were anticipated to surpass $100 million.
  • Persistent, heavy downpours caused continued flooding in Sudan, with Blue Nile state the hardest-hit. According to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and governmental agencies, there had been at least 120 fatalities since the unprecedented flooding began, and more than 172,000 houses damaged or destroyed.
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