We help make France more resilient to natural catastrophes

Economic losses from catastrophe events in Europe in 2017 were USD 23.7 billion, of which USD 12 billion were covered by the insurance industry. Most of the losses came in periods of weather extremes, including a series of windstorms and a cold snap early in the year, and drought conditions later. In late spring, a cold spell brought frost damage to crops in many countries. The crops had bloomed prematurely due to an unseasonably warm winter. Economic losses were estimated to be USD 4 billion, of which USD 0.9 billion were insured. The vegetation period has frequently started early in past years, and this can inflate crop losses when frost conditions set in.

The ground frost in particular proved devastating. Many farmers claim the 2017 cold snap was the worst they have ever experienced. Agricultural economic loses across Europe were at least USD 4 billion, of which 22% were insured. France and Italy reported the highest losses, mainly from damage to vineyards. Frost is an ever-present and major hazard for vineyards. In France, grape yields fell to 60-year lows, with around 60% of wine-growing areas like Bordeaux hit by freeze. Farmers attempted to protect their vineyards by installing heat-producing torches to warm the plants, and fans and sprinkler systems too. But the measures only proved effective in areas where the temperature dropped slightly below zero, and where there were no frosty winds.

Climate change will likely lead to more frequent warm winters and earlier springs. With this will come earlier plant development, an extension of the growing season, and early crop growth that is ever-more vulnerable to cold snaps, because the frequency and severity of late spring frost events had not changed much over time. The warmer conditions, especially during winter, entail another challenge for agriculture, in that they affect the proliferation of invasive species and diseases. Additionally, weather events like drought, heavy rains and storms may become frequent and severe due to changing climate, further impacting farmers' livelihoods.  

Flash and river floods, storms, hail and drought – increasingly natural disasters are taking numerous lives and putting the French economy under severe stress. At Swiss Re, we apply our natural catastrophe expertise, together with the knowledge and insights of the Swiss Re Institute and its flagship sigma research, to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your clients. Like helping you make prompt claims payouts to both families and companies when the floods of 2016 caused a record EUR 1.7 billion in economic losses here in France*. In today’s disruptive, data-driven environment, we can leverage our respective expertise and use tech-driven solutions to help you achieve success. And help make the world more resilient to natural catastrophes too. We’re smarter together.

* Adjusted to 2017 values in accordance with local CPI.

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