10 February 2021News

Severe cold weather in Spain causes $2.2bn in losses: Aon

Severe snowfall in Spain led to business interruption and property losses tentatively estimated at nearly €1.8 billion ($2.2 billion) in January, according to AON’s latest monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report.

The snowfall and cold temperatures caused by a low-pressure system called Filomena had not been seen in Spain for two decades. Insurance payments in the agricultural sector, along with flood-related property claims, only reached into the tens of millions of euros, Aon said.

The report noted that in the US an atmospheric river and low-pressure system impacted the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West and Northern Plains between January 11-14. This resulted in total economic losses estimated at $525 million, slightly more than half of which were insured.

In California, unseasonably strong winds on January 17-20 caused total losses of around $350 million, with more than half of it insured.

In Madagascar Cyclone Eloise made an initial landfall on January 19 before rapidly intensifying and striking Mozambique the same day as a category 2-equivalent storm. The storm killed at least 25 people and destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of homes in Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa.

In Japan, heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions in northwestern parts of the country from January 7-12 caused an estimated 23 deaths. Total economic and insured losses were each expected to reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Meanwhile two notable outbreaks of severe weather with strong winds and heavy snowfall affected western Canada on January 12-14 and 19-20, causing total economic and insured losses that are expected to reach into the tens of millions of dollars.

Michal Lörinc, catastrophe analyst for Aon’s impact forecasting team, said: “Winter weather is not often a primary driver of annual financial losses, but the level of direct and indirect disruption due to extreme freeze or excessive snowfall can lead to notable commercial and supply chain challenges.”