Natural catastrophes resulted in $58bn economic loss in 2009

Get free weekly news by e-mailAon Benfield has published its Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe report, which analysed global natural perils in 2009 and the resultant economic and insured losses.

The 68-page report reveals that insured losses from worldwide natural catastrophic events were USD20bn with a total economic loss of USD58bn. Catastrophe activity levels were similar to the past two years, comprising at least 222 separate events compared to 213 events in 2008 and 217 events in 2007. Overall, it was a very light catastrophe year, for the third year in a row.

Windstorm Klaus, which predominantly affected France, Spain and Italy, was 2009’s costliest event from both an insured and economic perspective, resulting in losses of USD3.3bn and USD6bn respectively.

Events in Asia affected the largest number of individual structures; Typhoon Ketsana, which struck the Philippines and Vietnam in September, damaged more than seven million structures, yet resulted in a relatively small insured loss of USD260mn.

The Global Climate and Catastrophe report highlights that no single insured loss event above USD5bn occurred this year. In 2008, Hurricane Ike caused more than USD12.5bn in insured losses, and in 2007 Windstorm Kyrill cost insurers over USD6.2bn.

From a climate perspective, 2009 was the fifth warmest year on record and the 32nd consecutive year of above average global temperatures.

Other key findings from the 2009 worldwide storm seasons included:

* Atlantic – nine named storms developed (31 percent below 25-year average), including three hurricanes (53 percent below average) and two major hurricanes (29 percent below average). No hurricanes made landfall in the US.

* Eastern Pacific – a total of 20 named storms (25 percent above 25-year average) with eight hurricanes (11 percent below average) and five major hurricanes (28 percent above average). One hurricane, Jimena, made landfall.

* Western Pacific – a total of 25 named storms (17 percent below 25-year average) with 14 typhoons (18 percent below average) and seven major typhoons (22 percent below average). Eight typhoons made landfall (11 percent below average).

* Indian Ocean and Southern Pacific – 29 named storms (13 percent below 25-year average) with eight cyclones (49 percent below average) and five major cyclones (34 percent below average). Three cyclones made landfall (38 percent below average).

* US Tornado – approximately 1,109 tornadoes (2 percent below 25-year average).

The report reveals that lower insurance take-up in poorer areas of the world resulted in larger economic loss events. Typhoon Morakot, which affected 3.9million structures in Taiwan, China and the Philippines resulted in an economic loss of more than USD5bn but a relatively small insured loss of USD100mn.

Meanwhile, the West Sumatra earthquake highlighted the low penetration of earthquake insurance in the region. The magnitude-7.6 earthquake affected more than 249,800 structures in Indonesia, leading to economic losses of USD2.2bn but an insured loss of around USD40mn – less than 2 percent of the economic loss total. Reconstruction costs have been estimated at USD860mn.

According to the Global Climate and Catastrophe report, Hurricane Katrina remains the costliest insurance event in history, resulting in insured losses of around USD45.5bn after it struck in 2005.

•Date: 4th Jan 2010 • Region: World •Type: Article •Topic: DR general
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