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Natural disaster first-half claims top 10-year average

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Natural catastrophe insurance losses reached an estimated $US42 billion ($57 billion) in the first half of the year to rise above the 10-year average while economic losses were lower, Aon’s Impact Forecasting says in a Global Catastrophe Recap.

Impact Forecasting MD and Head of Catastrophe Insight Steve Bowen says it was the costliest first six months of the year since 2011 for insurance losses, despite a below-average number of events.

The prolonged February freeze in North America associated with the Polar Vortex was the most significant, becoming the costliest winter weather-related event recorded, with $US22 billion ($30 billion) in economic losses and up to $US15 billion ($20 billion) in losses covered by insurance.

“The juxtaposition of observed record heat and cold around the globe highlighted the humanitarian and structural stresses from temperature extremes,” Mr Bowen said.

“As climate change continues to amplify the severity of weather events, it becomes more imperative to explore ways to better manage the physical and non-physical risks that are more urgently requiring actionable solutions.”

Total economic losses associated with the natural disaster events were estimated at $93 billion ($127 billion), 32% lower than the 10-year average.

The 163 notable natural disaster events recorded by Impact Forecast for the half was below the average this century of 191 and the median of 197.

Insured losses in the US were 76% above the 21st century average and for Europe, the Middle East and Africa were 32% higher. Losses were 1% lower in the Asia Pacific and 54% lower in the Americas.

Natural disasters were responsible for about 3000 fatalities during the half, well below the long-term average of 38,900 since 1980 and the median of 7600.

The estimated insurance impact figures are preliminary and will change as the losses continue to develop.