08 January 2014

Natural disasters cost $125 billion in 2013

Natural disasters, led by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and flooding in Europe, cost an estimated total of $125 billion in 2013.


Natural disasters, led by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and flooding in Europe, cost a total of $125 billion in 2013, German reinsurance giant Munich Re estimated.

The figure was below the average over 10 years of $184 billion, with insured losses of $31 billion, down from the average $56 billion.

"Floods and hailstorms caused double-digit billion-dollar losses in central Europe, and in the Philippines one of the strongest cyclones in history, Super Typhoon Haiyan, resulted in a human catastrophe with over 6000 fatalities," the company said in a statement.

The natural catastrophe causing the most financial damage was severe flooding in Central and Eastern Europe in early June, with overall losses totalling $15.2 billion, of which $3.2 billion was insured.

The most expensive single event disaster

The most expensive single event for the insurance industry was a series of hailstorms in Germany in July with hailstones as big as tennis balls pelting cars, buildings, homes and solar installations.

Losses totalled $4.8 billion, of which $3.7 billion was insured  

Read: Rise in weather disasters in 2008                     

Haiyan reached $10 billion

The overall losses from Haiyan reached some $10 billion, equal to around 5% of the Philippines' annual economic output.

"(But) owing to the very low insurance penetration, the insured loss will probably only be in the mid three-digit million range," Munich Re said.

It said the 2013 typhoon season in the Pacific was above average in terms of activity, with 31 named storms.

"The destructive power of typhoons threatens coastal regions, islands and also inland regions throughout Southeast Asia. Based on a natural cycle, our analyses predict the beginning of a phase with higher typhoon activity for the coming years," board member Ludger Arnoldussen said.

Hurricanes unusually quiet

However the North Atlantic hurricane season proved remarkably quiet last year, with no hurricane-force storm hitting the US mainland.

A series of severe tornadoes ravaged the US plains, notably the state of Oklahoma in May, with losses topping out at $3.1 billion, of which $1.8 billion was insured.

Meanwhile heavy rainfall triggered flooding in the Canadian province of Alberta, at a cost of $5.7 billion with $1.6 billion insured.

Read more:
Floods, fires and earthquakes
Would you survive disaster?
Earthquake: how to survive


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