23 January 2020News

Cat losses in 2019 nearly 20% below average since 2011

Insured losses from major natural catastrophes were nearly 20 percent below their annual average since 2011 last year, according to Willis Re.

In Willis Re's  Summary of Natural Catastrophe Events 2019, it said 2019 insured losses from such natural catastrophes amounted to around $53 billion.

The range of cat losses has been very wide in the period since 2011. In 2017 total insured losses reached around $143 billion, with 2011 also seeing extreme losses of $120 billion. However, between 2013 and 2016 there were four consecutive years in which losses were lower than 2019, of $35 billion, $33 billion, $23 billion and $39.5 billion, respectively.

When the average excludes the peak years of 2011 and 2017, the 2019 total is 14 percent above the annual average, Willis Re said.

The largest insured catastrophe losses in 2019 were Japanese tropical cyclones Faxai in September and Hagibis in October, which delivered insured losses of around $7 billion and $8 billion, respectively. The largest events in the US were Hurricane Dorian, which saw wide ranging loss estimates, and a thunderstorm affecting the High and Central Plains and the eastern US, which brought insured losses of $3 billion - $4 billion.

At year-end the total reported loss cost of Australia’s wildfires had reached roughly $900 million, and has now exceeded $1 billion, based on current exchange rates. The 2019 share of those total losses may reach the billion-dollar threshold as further claims and their dates of loss are reported, noted Willis Re.

North America had the largest insured catastrophe-loss bill, with around 46 percent of the global total in 2019, closely followed by Asia Pacific with 38 percent.

Karl Jones, head of catastrophe analytics at Willis Re International, noted 2019 saw some extreme and unusual events, such as the back-to-back typhoon losses in Japan and the bushfires in Australia, despite losses being well below the average.

Vaughn Jensen, executive vice president and head of North America catastrophe analytics at Willis Re, said: “The year will come as a relative relief to reinsurers, following the extremely costly events of 2017 and 2018. However, the year did bring the strongest-ever landfalling hurricane in the Atlantic, Hurricane Dorian.”