2017 was the third highest global insured loss year on Swiss Re sigma records with preliminary loss estimates of $136 billion in global insured losses and total economic losses rising dramatically from $188 billion in 2016 to $306 billion this year.
The $136 billion of global insured losses is well-above the annual average of the previous 10 years, and the third highest since records began in 1970.
Natural catastrophes accounted for $131 billion of this year’s insured losses, and man-made disasters for the remaining $5 billion.
The U.S. saw the heaviest losses after hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria made 2017 the second costliest hurricane season on sigma records after 2005.
Kurt Karl, Swiss Re’s Group Chief Economist, commented that “there has been a lull in hurricane activity in the U.S. for several years.
“Irrespective, there has been a significant rise in the number of residents and new homes in coastal communities since Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005, so when a hurricane strikes, the loss potential in some places is now much higher than it was previously.”
These losses were compounded by the California wildfires, which according to preliminary Property Claims Services estimates, triggered insured property losses of $7.3 billion and the final loss figure will likely be higher with fires still raging in Southern California.
Two powerful Mexico earthquakes led to numerous building collapses, claiming a large number of victims and resulting in insured losses of more than $2 billion. Earlier in the year, in late March, the category 4 tropical Cyclone Debbie hit the northeastern coast of Australia.
And at the end of April, Europe suffered a cold snap, followed by a summer of heat waves and record temperatures in several locations, making 2017 a year of weather extremes. Further, severe floods in South East Asia caused large devastation and, sadly, a large number or victims.
Martin Bertogg, Head of Catastrophe Perils at Swiss Re, said; “in recent years, annual insurance losses from disaster events have exceeded $100 billion a few times.
“The insurance industry has demonstrated that it can cope very well with such high losses.
“However, significant protection gaps remain and if the industry is able to extend its reach, many more people and businesses can become better equipped to withstand the fallout from disaster events.”