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Global natural disasters increased in number but decreased in impact during 2015

Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield's catastrophe model development team, has published its Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that took place worldwide during 2015. 

The report states that 300 separate global natural disasters occurred in 2015, compared to the 15-year average of 269 events, causing a combined total insured loss of USD35 billion: 31 percent below the 15-year average of USD51 billion, and the lowest annual insured loss total since 2009.

The costliest event for insurers was a February winter storm that impacted much of the Eastern United States and resulted in public and private insurance payouts of more than USD2.1 billion.

Global economic losses from natural catastrophes in 2015 stood at USD123 billion: 30 percent below the 15-year average of USD175 billion. There were 14 multi-billion dollar economic loss events around the world, with the costliest being forest fires that burned out of control in Indonesia. At USD16.1 billion, The World Bank noted that the economic loss from the fires represented 1.9 percent of the country's GDP.

Meanwhile, 2015 replaced 2014 as the warmest year since the recording of global land and ocean temperature began in 1880.

The study reveals that the three costliest perils – flood, severe thunderstorm, and wildfire – accounted for 59 percent of all economic losses during the 12 months under review. The deadliest event of 2015 was the magnitude 7.8 earthquake and subsequent aftershock that struck Nepal in April and May, killing more than 9,100 people and costing the nation and surrounding countries an estimated USD8.0 billion in damage and reconstruction.

By the end of 2015, the United States had extended its record to 10 consecutive years without a major hurricane landfall. While 32 percent of catastrophe losses occurred inside the United States, the country accounted for 60 percent of global insured losses, highlighting the high level of insurance penetration.

The top 10 insured loss events in 2015 comprised of five United States severe thunderstorm outbreaks, one United States winter storm, one European windstorm, one Indonesian forest fire, and one United States drought. No region of the world sustained aggregate insured losses above its 15-year average in 2015; though EMEA, Asia Pacific and the Americas (non-US) were all above their respective medians.

To view the full Impact Forecasting 2015 Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report click here.


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