Posted on 05 May 2011
Aon Benfield's latest Monthly Cat Recap report, which reviewed the natural disaster perils that occurred worldwide during April, reveals that at least five separate severe weather outbreaks occurred across central and eastern sections of the U.S. during the month, resulting in combined insured losses in excess of $4 billion.
Published by Impact Forecasting, the firm’s catastrophe model development center of excellence, the first outbreak, from April 3-5, triggered around 1,500 storm reports and resulted in more than 250,000 insurance claims being filed, with insured losses expected to exceed $1.25 billion. The second outbreak, which swept across parts of the Midwest, Plains and the Southeast, generated over 300,000 insurance claims and insured losses of more than $1.35 billion.
The last wave of severe weather, from April 22-28, proved the most devastating. During this time, a historic tornado outbreak (with the National Weather Service confirming a record 178 tornado touchdowns in a 24-hour period) brought catastrophic damage to parts of Alabama and Mississippi. Early reports from state government insurance agencies noted that losses from the event were already in excess of USD1.3 billion, including USD1 billion in Alabama alone.
Steve Jakubowski, President of Impact Forecasting, said: “While tornadoes and their associated weather activity are a common occurrence in these regions at this time of year, no one could have expected such an intense series of storms and the consequent level of destruction that was witnessed during April. The scale and ferocity of these weather systems has defined them as historic events, and, as has been the case for other natural perils during the past 12 months or so, large insured losses incurred outside of traditional peak peril zones will no doubt be causing some re/insurers to review their global exposures to weather risk.”
Elsewhere in the U.S., dozens of wildfires broke out across Texas killing at least two firefighters. The Texas Forest Service reported that the fires affected more than 1.5 million acres (607,000 hectares) of land and destroyed at least 310 homes, businesses and churches, while The Insurance Council of Texas recorded initial insured losses in excess of $150 million, with additional damage to fencing, pipelines and other farm assets totaling $33 million.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian government allocated BRL400 million ($255 million) for recovery efforts after severe thunderstorms caused extensive damage in regions of Rio de Janeiro during April.
A series of hailstorms in China killed at least 21 people and injured 155 others. The Ministry of Civil affairs reported that more than 3,200 homes were severely damaged amid total economic losses of CNY171 million ($26.2 million).
In Europe, a strong storm system affected parts of Norway and Iceland during the month, with high winds and heavy rains damaging hundreds of homes and businesses in each country. Norwegian insurance companies reported that a large number of claims had been filed.
In Asia, flood events were recorded in Kazakhstan, Indonesia and the Philippines during the month., while in India, a tornado hit northern towns in Bangladesh on April 4, killing at least 17 people and injuring more than 150 others.