August 15, 2018
Business

Losses from global disasters in 2017 exceeded $300bn

Economic losses from natural and man-made disasters have soared by 63 percent in 2017 to an estimated $306 billion, according to a report from reinsurance firm Swiss Re.

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The company estimates, insured losses from natural and man-made disasters around the world was approximately $136 billion, up from $65 billion in 2016.

This is “well-above the annual average of the previous ten years, and the third highest since… records began in 1970,” Swiss Re said in its report.

The reinsurance firm said insured losses from disasters have exceeded $100 billion in a number of years.

“The insurance industry has demonstrated it can cope very well with such high losses,” said Martin Bertogg, Head of Catastrophe Perils at Swiss Re.

“However, significant protection gaps remain, and if the industry is able to extend its reach, many more people and businesses can become better equipped to withstand the fallout from disaster events,” he added.

According to Swiss Re, “Globally, more than 11,000 people have died or gone missing in disaster events in 2017.”

The US was hardest hit, including by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, “which have made 2017 the second costliest hurricane season" after 2005, the company said.

The economic losses from the three hurricanes will be much higher given the significant flood damage – often uninsured – from hurricane Harvey in densely populated Houston, Texas, an extended power outage in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria, and post-event loss amplification.

“There has been a lull in hurricane activity in the US for several years,” said Kurt Karl, Swiss Re's Chief Economist. “Irrespective, there has been a significant rise in the number of residents and new homes in coastal communities since Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005, so when a hurricane strikes, the loss potential in some places is now much higher than it was previously.”

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