News and resources on ESG data and technology, Impact Investing and Sustainable Finance initiatives and best practices.

Third consecutive year for weather-event insurance claims to top $100 billion

Source: Bloomberg

A new insurance sector report from Bloomberg Intelligence estimates that insured losses from natural catastrophes in H1 2023 point to 2023 being the third straight year of weather-event claims topping $100 billion, with much of these coming from secondary perils such as floods, hail and wildfires. All of the latter are becoming more frequent as global temperatures rise, notes BI.

Charles Graham, senior insurance analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, commented: “Munich Re puts total global insured costs of natural-catastrophe events in H1 at $43 billion and SwissRe at $50 billion, so it seems certain that 2023 claims for weather-related incidents will probably exceed $100 billion for the third year in a row. The earthquake across Turkey and Syria was the most devastating episode - involving the loss of an estimated 58,000 lives - yet only about $5 billion of the projected $40 billion cost was insured.

“More than two-thirds of H1 insured losses from natural catastrophes were as a result of severe thunderstorms in the US which brought floods, hail and tornadoes. Climate change facilitates the formation of convective storms, since higher temperatures result in greater water evaporation and increased humidity at ground level. Record temperatures have also sparked numerous wildfires.”

Insurers Face Highest Natural-Catastrophe Losses Since 2011

Weather losses dominated insured natural-catastrophe claims in H1, contributing to the second-highest level since 2011 (on an inflation-adjusted basis). Insured losses, estimated by Swiss Re at $50 billion compare to the $32 billion 10-year average. Weather events cost $45 billion, of which thunderstorms in the US made up $34 billion, with claims from 10 events totalling over $1 billion each.

Events elsewhere illustrate the vulnerability of large urban centres to climate-change effects, says BI. Heavy mid-May rainfall and flooding in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region drove a $10 billion economic loss, yet only $600 million-$1.1 billion of insured claims, given flood risk in Italy (like other European countries) isn't covered under standard building insurance. Flooding in Auckland, New Zealand's No. 2 city, cost $1.3 billion in January.

Kevin Ryan, senior insurance analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, added: “This year is on track to be the third sequential year when insured losses from weather related events top $100 billion. Swiss Re anticipates that the insured cost of natural-catastrophe claims has increased at an annual growth rate of 5-7% since 1992. Mounting inflation looks likely to see that pace accelerate. Driving the longer-term trend is a combination of greater loss severity caused by rising property values, continued urban expansion and economic growth and the increasing intensity of weather events linked to climate change.

“Natural catastrophe insured losses of $125 billion in 2022 compare with an average cost of $81billion over the past 10 years and $110 billion over the last five, all at constant 2022 prices. Peak years for claims include 2017 ($173 billion), 2011 ($158 billion) and 2005 ($155 billion).”

Hailstones the Size of Tennis Balls Smash Roofs, Windows, Cars
Hailstones are getting bigger, notes BI, and with it the damage they can do. Thunderstorms which wrought severe damage in Texas in mid-June saw hailstones measuring as much as 12 centimetres in diameter. Such events aren't limited to the US, as heatwaves elsewhere have been followed by violent storms. Rainstorms in the first week of August resulted in flooding, landslides and a number of deaths in Slovenia, Austria and Croatia.

Comments: (0)