Sigma preliminary estimates: natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2013 cost insurers worldwide USD 44 billion
18 December 2013, Zurich
- Total economic losses from disasters reached USD 130 billion in 2013 worldwide
- Insured global losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters totalled USD 44 billion, with flooding a major driver
- Around 25 000 lives were lost as a result of natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2013
According to preliminary sigma estimates, insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2013 are estimated to be around USD 44 billion, down from USD 81 billion in 2012. Insured losses from natural catastrophes are at least USD 38 billion, down from USD 75 billion, while man-made disasters generated the remaining USD 6 billion of insured claims this year, little changed from 2012.
The overall economic losses from this year's catastrophic events reached USD 130 billion, compared with USD 196 billion in 2012. The total loss of life climbed to around 25 000 from 14 000 last year.
High loss of life from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
In November, Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines with some of the strongest winds ever recorded, heavy rains and storm surges. Haiyan has claimed more than 7 000 lives, which is the highest loss of life from a single event in 2013. Despite the devastation wreaked, insured losses are expected to be modest as insurance penetration is low in the country.
Flooding causes extensive damage across all continents
The flooding that affected large areas of central and eastern Europe in June 2013 created overall losses of USD 18 billion, with insured losses estimated at USD 4 billion. The insured losses were higher than the 2002 floods in the same region which cost the industry over USD 2 billion (USD 3 billion at current prices). The June flooding ranks as the second most expensive fresh water flood event on sigma records, but is a distant second to the 2011 Thailand flood which led to insured claims of over USD 16 billion.
Also in June, rain-induced flooding hit Alberta, Canada, causing insured losses of nearly USD 2 billion, the highest ever recorded in the country for any disaster. There were also heavy rains and floods in Australia, India, China, Indonesia, Southern Africa and Argentina this year.
European severe weather events feature prominently
In addition to floods, Europe suffered a number of other severe weather events, including hail and windstorms. Hailstorm Andreas battered Germany and France in July, resulting in insured losses of USD 3 billion. Later in the year, Windstorm Christian in central and northern Europe is estimated to have caused more than USD 1 billion in insured claims. The more recent Windstorm Xaver in the same region has triggered additional insured losses of around USD 1 billion.
Kurt Karl, Chief Economist at Swiss Re, says "In many parts of the world, insurance penetration remains low. Together with preventative measures, insurance can lessen the destructive impact and financial burden that large catastrophic events can have on people's lives. It can also help accelerate reconstruction efforts, as we have seen in areas where insurance penetration is higher."
Harsh spring and autumn weather spawned severe thunderstorms and deadly tornadoes in the US, which brought devastation of properties and hefty losses to the insurance industry. However, the 2013 North Atlantic hurricane season was benign.
Table 1: The most costly insured catastrophe losses in 2013
||Floods||Germany, Czech Republic et al.|||
|4||May||&1.8||3.2||Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes
|5||March||1.6||2.2||Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail
|6||May||1.4||2.0||Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, large hail
||Germany, Denmark et al.
|8||April||1.1||1.6||Snow storm, ice, tornadoes, heavy rains
||UK, Denmark et al.
|10||January||1.0||1.5||Floods cased by Cyclone Oswald
1 The numbers in this table are subject to revision as estimate information on losses progresses/is finalised
2 Property and business interruption, excluding liability and life insurance losses
 Swiss Re estimate
 With the permission of Property Claims Services (PCS)
 Perils AG
 Insurance Council of Australia
Go to www.sigma-explorer.com to chart 2013 and historical sigma data on natural catastrophes and man-made disasters.
Notes to editors:
|Definitions and selection criteria for sigma catastrophe statistics:|
|Natural catastrophes||Loss events triggered by natural forces|
|Man-made disasters||Loss events associated with human activities|
|Insured catastrophe losses||Losses caused by the catastrophes covered by property insurance|
|Total economic losses||Also include the uninsured part of the property losses related to the catastrophes|
|Minimum selection criteria:|
|Total losses||USD 96 million|
|Or: Insured property claims||Shipping: USD 19.3 million Aviation: USD 38.6 million Other: USD 48 million|
|Or: Casualties||Dead or missing: 20 Injured: 50 Homeless: 2 000|
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