Insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters totaled $40 billion in 2013, well below the ten-year average of $60 billion, according to ”2013 Catastrophe Review,” from Guy Carpenter & Co., a provider of risk and reinsurance intermediary services.
“Last year will likely be known as the year of the flood,’ with significant global flood events affecting Central Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States,” said Julian Alovisi, VP for Guy Carpenter. “Although 2013 was relatively quiet compared to past years, several major events such as the tornado outbreaks in the U.S., floods, hail and windstorms in Europe and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines inflicted widespread devastation and significant losses on impact.”
In the United States, severe thunderstorms in May of last year affected the Southeast, Midwest and Southern Plains. A tornado devastated Moore, Oklahoma, causing $1.8 billion in insured losses. Another hit the Midwest and Southern Plains and included the El Reno tornado, which caused insured losses of $1.4 billion. Significant flooding affected the State of Colorado.
“Heading deeper into 2014, we are very concerned about the water situation in the state of California,” James Waller, PhD, research meteorologist for GC Analytics, a unit of Guy Carpenter. “In 2013, California experienced the lowest precipitation in recorded history for the state. This has already led to exceptionally severe drought conditions in the area. If these conditions continue to persist, lasting and significant impacts to water resources, agriculture and an aggressive wildfire season will be major areas of concern.”
Significant flood events also affected Canada, which experienced its most expensive insured catastrophe loss year on record. Flooding in the Calgary, Alberta region caused $2 billion in insured losses and economic losses of $4.8 billion, and Toronto also experienced significant flood damage.
Central Europe experienced the worst flooding of the year, Guy Carpenter said, as heavy rain caused major rivers to overflow their banks and breach flood defenses. Estimated insurance losses from this event in Germany were $4.1 billion, and economic losses were $18 billion. Flooding was followed by Hailstorm Andreas, which damaged 100,000 properties and 50,000 cars in the northern and southern regions of Germany, and was the costliest natural disaster to hit the country, causing insured losses of $3.7 billion.
Severe windstorms in Northern Europe also caused significant damage in the autumn and early winter months, Guy Carpenter said. Insured losses from Windstorm Christian totaled $1.4 billion and Windstorm Xaver totaled $925 million. Soil saturation will be a concern for many areas of Europe in 2014, increasing flood risks during normally wet months.
The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season also was comparatively mild. Hurricane Ingrid in the Atlantic and Tropical Storm Manuel, in the Pacific, caused excessive rainfall, flooding and mudslides, displacing thousands of people and combined, caused insured losses of $920 million, according to the Mexican Association of Insurance Institutions.
“Only five other seasons since 1970 had less activity than 2013 in the Atlantic basin,” Guy Carpenter said in the report. “The quiet season was in part due to persistent dry, stable air over large portions of the Atlantic main development region. The inactive season was unexpected given statistical forecasts for above-average activity provided by seasonal outlook providers. There is, however, no guarantee that the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season will be like the 2013 season.”
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