Canadian Underwriter

Insured losses in U.S. from February weather “likely to exceed” US$1 billion: Aon Benfield Impact Forecasting

March 6, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter

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February weather in the United States may have caused more than $1 billion in insured losses while the costliest catastrophe last month was flooding in Indonesia, which affected 75,000 businesses in the Jakarta area, Impact Forecasting LLC reported Thursday.

Insured losses from winter weather "are likely to exceed" $1 billion in the United States, reported Aon Benfield Impact Forecasting in its Global Catastrophe Recap.Also in February, avalanches killed at least 286 in Afghanistan, 7,376 homes were damaged in Madagascar from floods arising from Tropical Storm Fundi, and Cyclone Marcia caused an estimated $233 million in economic losses in Australia, reported Impact Forecasting, a unit of London-based Aon plc’s Aon Benfield reinsurance intermediary, in its Global Catastrophe Recap.

Insured losses “are likely to exceed” $1 billion, Chicago-based Impact Forecasting said of six winter weather events in the U.S. All figures are in U.S. dollars.

“Based on preliminary estimates from local and state governments, businesses, and the insurance industry, it is expected that aggregated economic losses during February will be in the low-digit billions of dollars,” Impact Forecasting said of the U.S. catastrophes.

Those included winter weather Feb. 13 to 15, when parts of the plains, Ohio River valley and mid-Atlantic got more than 30 centimetres of snow.

“At least 30 people died,” Impact Forecasting stated. “States of emergency were declared in six states while Washington D.C. declared a snow emergency. In the wake of the precipitation, record cold with temperatures dropping in some areas below -20°F (-28.9°C) engulfed the Eastern U.S. for several days. Total economic and insured losses were estimated to reach well into the millions.”

Four other U.S. catastrophes arose from winter weather while a sixth, from Feb. 6 to 8, was from Pacific storms causing more than 300 millimetres of rain in Washington State.

In Asia, more than 286 Afghans died as a result of avalanches triggered by winter weather Feb. 15 to 27. That catastrophe destroyed about 1,250 homes, with economic losses unknown.

“The costliest event came in Asia, where flooding swept across Indonesia and left six people dead,” Impact Forecasting said of February catastrophes. It listed two flood catastrophes in Indonesia, with total damages in the capital of Jakarta estimated at $235 million.

In this Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, file photo, a couple wades through floodwaters in Jakarta, Indonesia. Seasonal rains and high tides caused widespread flooding across much of Indonesia. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

The islands of Java, Bali, and West Nusa Tenggara “were impacted by floods triggered by heavy rainfall from January 31 through February 2,” Impact Forecasting said. “Two people were killed in Bali while approximately 4,000 homes were submerged on West Nusa Tenggara by floodwaters that reached up to 4.0 meters (31.1 feet) in depth.”

Related: Powerful earthquake strikes off eastern Indonesia; no tsunami warning

Flooding in Jakarta affected nearly 10,000 residents and 75,000 businesses.

In Europe, 32 deaths were attributed to weather catastrophes.

“An area of low pressure, named ‘Mischka,’ brought heavy rain and strong winds to parts of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, and Turkey from January 30 until February 2,” Aon Benfield reported. “Eight people died in Turkey and a further five perished in Bulgaria as a result of the weather. Several major rivers in the Balkan Peninsula overflowed their banks inundating thousands of properties. Damage was also noted to several major structures in the region including two dams in Macedonia and two historical bridges in Greece.”

In Bulgaria, damage “was announced to be minimally” about US$12.6 million.

There were two other two events in Europe. One was heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures – affecting Ireland, Britain, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and Slovakia – from Jan. 29 until Feb. 1. The other – from Feb. 3 through 8 – was a system dubbed “Norbert that brought heavy snowfall, affecting Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.

“At least seven people died in Italy,” Impact Forecasting said. “Widespread disruption to travel was reported throughout the affected countries.”

In Australia Cyclone Marcia – estimated to have caused about US$233 million in economic losses – gave rise to nearly 14,000 claims with a combined total of about US$69 million.

MAP: Forecasted path of Tropical Cyclone Marcia over the Queensland, Austrailia coast issued Feb. 20 by the Australia Government Bureau of Meteorology

“Marcia made a morning landfall at Shoalwater Bay and brought torrential rain to southern Queensland and northern portions of New South Wales,” Impact Forecasting reported. “Approximately 1,500 homes in Queensland sustained damage due to the strong winds, flying debris, and flash floods, and the agricultural sector was also impacted. As many as 100,000 properties endured power outages.”

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