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Tennessee and Israel wildfires, New Zealand quake among expensive catastrophes in November: Aon Benfield


December 7, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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The November 13 earthquake affecting New Zealand “serves as a reminder ” of earthquake risk in Oceania, while wildfires — some set deliberately – in Israel, will cause economic losses of over half a billion, Impact Forecasting LLC suggested in a report released Wednesday.

The Global Catastrophe Recap, published monthly by Chicago-based Impact Forecasting, is intended to evaluate the impact of natural disaster events worldwide.

Impact Forecasting is a unit of Aon Benfield, the reinsurance brokerage subsidiary of London-based Aon plc.

New Zealand Earthquake

A “preliminary financial statement from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand” estimated the damage from the recent earthquake “would range” from $705 million to $3.5 billion, Impact Forecasting said in the report. The main quake was 7.8 on the Richter scale and there were several aftershocks. All figures are in United States dollars.

“As of this writing, the New Zealand Earthquake Commission had received 14,660 claims,” Impact Forecasting said in the report.

The disaster “brought further damage to parts of New Zealand as the country continues to rebuild following the devastating temblors in 2010 and 2011,” stated Adam Podlaha, global head of Impact Forecasting, in a press release Wednesday. “While the associated losses with the November event are not expected to reach the magnitude of the 2010 and 2011 events, it serves as a reminder for the cat modelling sector of the earthquake risk in Oceania.”

Other expensive disasters last month included wildfires Nov. 26-28 in Israel. Economic losses are estimated at US$520 million. Many of those wildfires were set by arsonists. At least 137 people were injured and at least 1,706 homes were damaged or destroyed. More than 60,000 were evacuated in the region of Haifa.

Wildfires starting Nov. 28 – which reportedly caused 14 deaths – are also affecting eastern Tennessee.

“The most catastrophic damage resulted from the Chimney Tops 2 Fire that damaged or destroyed more than 1,750 structures in Sevier County’s Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge,” Impact Forecasting said in the report. “The blaze, which charred at least 17,006 acres (6,882 hectares) of land, was cited as the worst in Tennessee in more than 100 years.”

Economic losses from the Tennessee wildfires “were estimated to well exceed” US$100 million.

Earlier last month, severe weather in Texas and New Mexico caused economic losses estimated at more than $450 million.

“A series of scattered thunderstorms impacted southern portions of New Mexico and Western Texas from November 4-6,” Aon Benfield reported. “Flash flooding and large quantities of hail caused widespread disruption throughout El Paso, TX as traffic was ground to a halt. Tens of thousands of homes, vehicles and commercial buildings reported damage across the region – though the most significant damage was concentrated in west Texas.”

Public and private insurers “noted losses nearing” $300 million, Impact Forecasting added.

In Europe, flooding Nov. 23-25 affected Italy, plus the French island of Corsica. Total economic losses “were expected to exceed” 100 million euros. A frontal system passed over the Apennine peninsula and adjacent islands. In Italy, it affected the regions of Piedmont, Liguria, Calabria and Sicily.

Further north, Wind Storm Nannette is expected to cause economic losses of more than $100 million. That was a low pressure system Nov. 20-21 that caused severe wind gusts over portions of Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. It also brought heavy rainfall and localized flooding to Southern England.

Eighteen deaths were attributed to flooding in Saudi Arabia Nov. 28-29. “Heavy damage to infrastructure” was reported after “large swaths of roadways were washed away or covered by debris,” Impact Forecasting said of the floods in Saudi Arabia. “Total damage was estimated well into the millions of dollars.”