Hurricanes can cause a staggering amount of human losses as well as economic hardship for those affected. Total monetary losses habitually exceed insured losses in the case of hurricanes, as our graphic with data from Munich Re shows.
Of the estimated US$125 billion in total damages caused by Hurricane Katrina, the worst storm on the insurer’s list, in 2005 just more than $60 billion were insured losses. The ratio is worse for Hurricane Harvey, which devastated parts of the U.S., the Caribbean and Central America in 2017. Here only a third, US$30 billion out of US$95 billion, was insured.
Looking exclusively at insured damages, hurricanes and tornados have caused about an equal amount of damage between 1997 and 2016 in the U.S.
While the storms pounding the Pacific coast of Southeast Asia, called typhoons, are also ferocious, data provided by Munich Re indicates that losses caused by thyphoons have been smaller than those caused by hurricanes since 1980, while insurance ratios are even worse in the region.
The most costly hurricanes to the insurance industry worldwide from 2011 to 2018 was Hurricane Harvey, which struck the U.S. from August 25th to September 1st 2017, caused insured losses amounting to 30 billion U.S. dollars and total losses reaching 95 billion U.S. dollars.
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Insured Catastrophe Losses – Statistics & Facts
Insurance is a form of risk management. It is a promise of compensation from the insurer to the policy holder for specific future losses in exchange for a regular payment. It is designed to protect the individual, business or organization from an unexpected loss and secure their financial well-being.
Some of the most extreme cases of financial loss to individuals, businesses and whole regions result from natural catastrophes. In 2017, the insured losses worldwide reached approximately 144.31 billion U.S. dollars. Weather-related losses cost the insurance industry 136.44 billion U.S. dollars, man-made disasters cost 6.25 billion U.S. dollars and earthquakes cost 1.62 billion U.S. dollars. The earthquake most expensive to the insurance industry since 1980, took place in Japan in March 2011. The total losses were estimated to be 210 billion U.S. dollars while only 40 billion U.S. dollars were insured. The most costly global tropical cyclone occurred in the United States in 2017. Hurricane Harvey incurred 95 billion U.S. dollars of total losses, out of which only 30 million U.S. dollars were insured. The most costly insurance loss worldwide resulting from a natural disaster since 1970 amounted to 82.39 billion U.S. dollars and was caused by Hurricane Katrina, which hit the United States in 2005.
Man-made insured losses are those caused by fires and explosions, mining accidents, aviation, maritime or rail disasters. In 2017, major fires and explosions worldwide cost the insurance industry approximately 5.44 billion U.S. dollars and were the most significant insured loss among the mentioned categories.
The most costly terrorist attack took place in the United States in 2001. The insured property loss resulting from the crash of hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, which is generally referred to as 9/11, amounted to 26.22 billion U.S. dollars.