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Aon: U.S. Natural Disasters Account for More than Half of 2012 Global Economic Losses

Posted on 24 Jan 2013 by Neilson

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Aon and natural disasters reportImpact Forecasting, the catastrophe model development center of excellence at Aon Benfield, today announces the launch of its Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report and new website, Catastrophe Insight, which provides 10 years of catastrophe data, including economic and insured losses across nine key natural perils.  Aon Benfield is the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon plc.

The Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report reveals that 295 natural peril events occurred worldwide in 2012 (2011: 257) causing total economic losses of USD200 billion, only slightly above the 10-year average of USD187 billion.

While economic losses were close to average, insured losses in 2012 were 36 percent higher than the ten year average (USD72 billion vs. USD53 billion) because the two most costly events of the year occurred in the U.S. which has higher than average insurance penetration. 2012 insured losses were significantly lower than the record 2011 insured loss of USD133 billion.

To allow further analysis of catastrophe data over the past decade, Impact Forecasting has now launched its new Catastrophe Insight website at, which includes charting functions and annual top 10 catastrophe loss tables from 2005-2012.

Stephen Mildenhall, Chief Executive Officer of Aon Benfield Analytics, said: "Despite growing support for 'the new normal' theory of a world dominated by rapidly escalating global catastrophe losses, our study highlights that 2012 returned to a more normal level of losses after the extreme economic and insured losses of 2011. While nominal catastrophe losses are increasing at an alarming rate, economic losses as a percent of global GDP - a measure appropriately normalized for inflation and economic development - has remained relatively stable over the past 30 years. The moderate level of catastrophe losses for 2012 is reflected in strong growth in reinsurer capital during the year."

Two U.S. natural peril events, Hurricane Sandy and a year-long drought, accounted for two-thirds of all 2012 insurance losses globally and nearly half of all economic losses for the year.

Hurricane Sandy was the costliest single event of the year, to date causing an estimated USD28.2 billion in insured losses across private insurers and government-sponsored programs, and approximately USD65 billion in economic losses across the United States, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Canada.

The most deadly event of 2012 was Super Typhoon Bopha, which killed more than 1,900 people after making landfall in the Philippines.

A total of 14 tropical cyclones made landfall globally in 2012, compared to a long term average of 16. Major flooding affected China and the United Kingdom, with other floods recorded elsewhere in Asia, Europe and Oceania.

Two earthquakes struck Italy causing considerable damage in the Emilia-Romagna region.

In 2012, Europe, Asia and North America (outside the U.S.) all sustained aggregate insured losses above USD1 billion due to flooding, earthquakes and tropical cyclones. Losses in Asia and Oceania were well below their recent 10-year averages, and Europe was slightly below its average.

Steve Bowen, Senior Scientist and Meteorologist at Impact Forecasting, said "After a year in which Asia and Oceania sustained significant natural disaster losses, the focus shifted back to the United States in 2012. The country was hit by nine separate billion-dollar insured loss events, including Hurricane Sandy and the most extensive drought since the 1930s. Tornado activity was dramatically lower than 2011, which can partially be attributed to the drought. U.S. severe weather losses were close to the recent five year average and 46 percent less than the record losses seen in 2011. Finally, 2012 marked the seventh consecutive year that no major hurricane made landfall in the U.S.; a streak not seen since the 1860s."

Records show that 2012 ended as the eighth warmest year in world history since global land and ocean temperature records began in 1880.