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Australia’s Queensland floods to cost re/insurers $893mn: Aon

7th March 2019 - Author: Matt Sheehan

The re/insurance industry is expected to incur losses of AUD $893 million (USD $635 million) as a result of the widespread flooding that affected Australia’s North Queensland from January 26 to February 7, according to Aon’s Impact Forecasting team.

townsville-floods

Flooding in Townsville, Queensland on Feb 4th. Credit: Zak Simmonds/Townsville Bulletin

The estimate came as part of Aon’s monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, and was based on the 22,204 claims reported so far by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).

Aon also anticipates total economic losses from the flooding – including damage to property, infrastructure, and agriculture – to be at least AUD $1.7 billion (USD $1.2 billion).

The flooding is believed to have triggered reinsurance protection for a number of exposed insurers, including Suncorp, who recently said its losses from the event would be capped at $97 million.

The catastrophe report also highlighted losses resulting from flooding in Chile, which damaged or destroyed more than 5,700 homes in the Arica y Parinacota, Tarapacá, and Antofagasta regions. The Chilean government allocated CLP 60 billion (USD $91 million) for event relief, Aon said.

Multiple storm systems also resulted in periods of heavy snow, freezing rain, and ice across parts of the U.S. Midwest and Canada throughout February, with combined industry losses expected to reach into the hundred of millions of dollars.

Aon anticipates similar levels of losses to result from a series of thunderstorms, tornadoes, large hail, damaging straight-line winds, and flooding rainfall that affected much of the Central and Eastern U.S last month.

“As the calendar begins to shift from winter to spring in the Northern Hemisphere, increased focus is now on the official arrival of El Niño,” said Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting Director and Meteorologist.

“While currently a weak El Niño episode and not expected to have significant impacts on global weather patterns, such conditions can still enhance regional phenomena,” he continued.

“Given that the second and third quarters are typically the costliest for catastrophe losses, there will be continued monitoring of whether El Niño may have any notable influence on upcoming events.”

Other notable natural catastrophe events in February included strong winds and heavy rainfall that caused moderate damage in Italy, Croatia, Greece and Malta, with financial costs anticipated to exceed €200 million.

Multiple landslides were also triggered in Bolivia following days of heavy rainfall, while hurricane-force wind gusts, torrential rains, high surf, mountain snow, and some of the coldest temperatures in years affected Hawaii.

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