Global reinsurance intermediary Aon Benfield released the latest edition of its Monthly Cat Recap report, which reviews the natural disaster perils that occurred worldwide during January.
Published by Impact Forecasting, the firm’s catastrophe model development center of excellence, the report reveals that Australia suffered its costliest natural disaster in history, with several weeks of severe flooding that has already resulted in AUD5.6 billion (USD5.65 billion) in economic damages. The total cost of repairing and rebuilding could potentially push the overall economic losses between AUD10 and 20 billion (USD10.1 and 20.2 billion).
Waves of heavy rains in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales resulted in a deluge that killed as many as 36 people and caused extensive damage to property and infrastructure in hundreds of cities, towns and villages.
The Insurance Council of Australia declared four separate catastrophes during the floods, with combined preliminary insured losses in Queensland and Victoria totaling AUD1.57 billion (USD1.58 billion) and more than 43,240 claims filed.
Steve Jakubowski, President of Impact Forecasting, said: “This natural disaster has been absolutely devastating to Australia, not only at a personal level, where millions of people have been affected and thousands left homeless, but also at an economic level. It is estimated that dozens of mines in Queensland have been hit by the floods, and will not be restored to full capacity for possibly several months. The assessment of this cost from a business interruption perspective will be an ongoing challenge for the re/insurance industry.”
Meanwhile, in South America the most deadly natural disaster in Brazilian history occurred in January following a series of massive mudslides in the Serrano mountain region.
The states of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro were most affected, with 856 deaths and hundreds of people still missing. According to government figures, more than 21,500 homes, businesses and other structures were destroyed, with total economic losses estimated at BRL2 billion (USD1.2 billion).
In the United States, major winter storms continued to affect the eastern half of the country during the month. Multiple storm systems brought additional rounds of record snow to New England and the Mid-Atlantic States, while record cold spells affected areas across the Southeast.
In Asia, floods and landslides hit Sri Lanka and the Philippines. The latter suffered consecutive weeks of heavy rain across 25 separate provinces, killing at least 75 people. According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council, at least 5,729 homes were damaged or destroyed along with crops and infrastructure, and total economic losses reached PHP2.05 billion (USD46.4 million).
In Sri Lanka, at least 43 people died in floods that inundated four provinces. According to the National Disaster Management Center, at least 50,000 homes, businesses and other structures were damaged along with vast areas of rice fields. Total economic losses were listed at LKR55.4 billion (USD500 million).
In China, severe winter weather affected the south and east of the country, killing at least two people, causing an economic loss of CNY11.6 billion (USD1.77 billion), and destroying more than 150,000 homes.
Meanwhile, Europe witnessed flooding across parts of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, affecting thousands of people, homes, businesses and infrastructure.
In Africa, at least 136 people died as flooding submerged agricultural land across parts of South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In South Africa, the total economic losses to property and agricult