The first half of 2017 has been well below average for catastrophe losses which reached just $44 billion in H1, just 37% of last year’s $117 billion for the same period, according to Swiss Re’s preliminary sigma estimates.
Fewer and less intense weather events were experienced this year so far globally; although proportionately the difference between insured and uninsured losses is less extreme, with total insured losses at 23 billion in H1 compared to $36 billion last year.
This is down to the U.S., one of the most highly insured countries in the world, leading catastrophe losses this year after a series of severe hailstorms and tornadoes devastated the U.S. Midwestern and Southern States.
$16 billion out of the overall $23 billion global insured losses were paid out in the U.S.; “Fortunately in the U.S. most households and businesses are insured against wind risk so they are financially protected when severe storms strike,” said Swiss Re’s Chief Economist Kurt Karl.
Outside of the U.S. the largest and most costly catastrophe event was Cyclone Debbie, a category 4 tropical cyclone that hit Australia in late March leaving $1.3 billion in insured losses.
February and March floods in Peru caused by the coastal El Niño phenomenon, were the highest overall losses witnessed this year, amounting to costs of $3.1 billion.
The Peruvian government is now left to pick up the pieces, struggling to repair its economic and social losses with only one tenth, or $380 million, of the total figure being insured.
Underinsured Peru dealt with heavy economic and social losses after severe flood events caused by the coastal El Niño phenomenon, caused the highest overall losses witnessed this year with economic losses at $3.1 billion.
Only one tenth, or $380 million, of the economic losses were insured.
In Europe a cold spell throughout the continent claimed dozens of hypothermia victims, and this was followed by a series of heat waves; throughout the Northern Hemisphere high temperatures and dry weather set off many wildfires, said Swiss Re.
Although 2017 has seen below average catastrophe levels globally so far, its been a year of weather extremes, particularly in Europe and the Southeastern U.S. where the agriculture industries were dealt a heavy blow from severe frost damage.