Aon Benfield's Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight: 2017 annual Report reveals that there were 330 natural catastrophe events in 2017 that generated economic losses of USD353 billion – of which 97 percent (USD344 billion) was due to weather-related events, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in the US and Caribbean, plus Typhoon Hato in China and Cyclone Debbie in Australia.
Insured losses to the private sector and government-sponsored programs were among the costliest ever incurred, reachingUSD134 billion in 2017 – just behind the record USD137 billion in 2011. This is 139 percent higher than last year's USD56 billion, primarily due to high insurance penetration in the US that suffered a very active Atlantic hurricane season, severe weather events (convective storms) and wildfires.
For historical context, 2017's natural catastrophe losses were 93 percent higher versus the 2000-2016 average.
Eric Andersen, CEO of Aon Benfield, commented: "While 2017 was an expensive year for the insurance industry, the reinsurance market had an estimated USD600 billion in available capital to withstand the high volume of payouts. Most critically, the US weather and wildfire events in particular have demonstrated the value of reinsurance, with claims being paid in an average of eight days to augment the recovery process."
Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist, said: "The high cost of disasters in 2017 served as a reminder that we continue to face increasing levels of risk as more people and exposures are located in areas that are particularly vulnerable to major, naturally occurring events. As weather scenarios grow more volatile in their size and potential impact, it becomes more imperative than ever to identify ways to increase awareness, improve communication, and lower the insurance protection gap. We know natural disasters are going to occur. The question is how prepared are we going to be when the next one strikes."
key findings include:
• 36 percent (USD80 billion) of economic damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria was insured
• 31 billion-dollar events occurred globally, with 16 alone in the US
• Wildfires caused USD14 billion of insurance losses in 2017 – the highest on record for the peril
• 10,000 human fatalities were caused by natural disasters, with the deadliest event being a massive landslide event inSierra Leone when more than 1,100 people lost their lives
• 2017 was the third warmest year on record since 1880 for combined land and ocean temperatures.