Global reinsurer Swiss Re has revealed how 2014 may present an improved picture for those threatened by natural and man made catastrophes, with economic losses falling during the first half of the year.
So far, 4700 people have lost their lives to disaster events in the first half of 2014, which compares to more than 26 000 in the whole of 2013.
Total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters reached US$44bn during the first half of 2014. The global insurance industry covered US$21bn of these losses, according to Swiss Re, down from US$25 billion in H1 2013 and lower than the average first-half year loss of the previous 10 years (US$ 27bn).
Natural catastrophes caused total economic losses of US$41bn, well below the US$59bn in H1 2013 and the average first-half year loss of the previous 10 years (US$94bn). Of the overall insured losses, US$19bn came from natural catastrophe events, down from US$21 billion in H1 2013 and also below the average first-half year loss of the previous 10 years (US$23 bn). Man-made disasters triggered an additional US$2bn in insurance losses in the first half of 2014.
In mid-May, a spate of severe storms bringing large hail stones hit many parts of the US over a five-day period, generating insured losses of US$2.6bn. In addition, harsh spring weather triggered thunderstorms and tornadoes, some of which caused insured claims of above US$1bn.
Extreme winter conditions earlier in the year, particularly in the US and Japan, likewise made a significant contribution to the insured losses from natural catastrophes. In the US, a long period of heavy snowfall and very cold temperatures hit the east and states in the south such as Mississippi and Georgia, resulting in combined insured losses of US$1.7bn. Japan also experienced heavy snowstorms in many areas, leading to property damage- related insurance claims currently estimated to be around US$2.5 bn.
Western Europe went through a second successive year of intense storm activity in 2014. Storm Ela in June brought hail and strong winds, causing significant damage to properties and vehicles in parts of France, Germany and Belgium, and total insured losses of US$2.5bn.
Once again floods took lives and inflicted extensive property damage in several regions of the world in the first half of 2014. For example, in May heavy flooding in Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and other eastern European countries resulted in total economic losses of US$4.5bn. However, with low insurance penetration, the associated insured losses were moderate.