You can’t put a monetary value on a human’s life – so it’s fair to say that the latest statistics on losses from disasters represent good news with the number of lives lost approximately halved. However, the bright outlook still produced many clouds for insurers.
Preliminary estimates from Swiss Re, released today, show that there were approximately 6,000 lives lost in disasters during the first half of 2016 – a massive reduction compared to the 12,000 lost during the same period last year. However, the economic loss still managed to rise – reaching US$71 billion, up by approximately 38%. Indeed for insurers the figures were even more staggering with losses from both natural and man-made catastrophes rising by 51% to US$31 billion.
At the heart of the losses were thunderstorms in the USA – including large hail – which racked up more than US$7 billion in losses. Among the most intense was a convective storm in Texas back in April with large hailstones causing widespread damage to property.
There were severe events closer to home too. During late May and early June, the low pressure systems Elvira and Friederike prompted flash floods, thunderstorms and river flooding with Germany and France taking the brunt of the hit.
Elsewhere, there were two major earthquakes – a 7.0 magnitude quake in Kumamoto prefecture in Japan; and, remarkably on the same day, a 7.3 magnitude quake in Ecuador. It is estimated there were 64 lives lost in the Japanese earthquake and 668 people died in Ecuador.
Another strong reason for insurance losses was the wildfire in Canada with the town of Fort McMurray almost completely destroyed. Overall insured losses in the area totalled US$2.5 billion – one of the most expensive wildfire events in history.
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