sigma 02/2015: Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2014: convective and winter storms generate most losses
According to the latest sigma study, global insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters were USD 35 billion in 2014, down from USD 44 billion in 2013 and well below the USD 64 billion-average of the previous 10 years. There were 189 natural catastrophe events in 2014, the highest ever on sigma records, causing global economic losses of USD 110 billion. Around 12 700 people lost their lives in all disaster events, down from as many as 27 000 in 2013, making it one of the lowest numbers ever recorded in a single year.
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Total economic losses from all disaster events in 2014 were USD 110 billion, down from USD 138 billion in 2013, and well below the previous 10-year annual average of USD 200 billion. In terms of human cost, more than 12 700 people lost their lives in disaster events last year.
Another quiet hurricane season in the North Atlantic
Global insured losses, meanwhile, were USD 35 billion, also below the previous 10-year annual average of USD 64 billion. The record 189 natural catastrophe event that occurred in 2014 generated USD 28 billion of the global insured losses. The low level of insured losses is largely due to 2014 having been yet another quiet hurricane season-year in the North Atlantic. No major hurricane making US landfall for the ninth year in succession.
There were some significant loss-inducing weather events in 2014, including heavy snow storms in harsh winters in the US and Japan. Insured losses from all winter storms in the US were USD 2.4 billion, more than double the average of the previous 10 years. And in Europe in June, Storm Ela brought large and damaging hail to parts of France and Belgium, and strong winds in Germany. The combined insured losses were USD 2.2 billion, making it the second most expensive hail event in Europe on sigma records.
Storm losses rising
But overall, a main feature of 2014 was a series of smaller loss-inducing events. These included a number of convective storms, a collective term to include all of hail, tornadoes, straight-line winds, flash flooding, and thunder and lightning. This sigma includes a special chapter on severe convective storms. The losses generated by such events have been on a rising trend over the last 25 years, in large part due to rising losses in the US where the frequency of storms, particularly tornadoes, and insurance penetration are highest.