US$19bn of global insured losses in H1 2019: Swiss Re

August 16 2019 by Andrew Tjaardstra

Global economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in the first half of 2019 amounted to US$44 billion, according to Swiss Re Institute’s preliminary sigma estimates.

This figure is well below US$109 billion, the average first-half economic losses of the previous ten years; it is also lower than the losses of US$51 billion reported for first six months of 2018.

Out of the total global economic losses in the first half of 2019 – US$19 billion were covered by insurance –  the main driver being thunderstorms and flooding events – including the dramatic Townsville flooding in Queensland. Only about 42% of the global economic losses were insured, compared with 52% in the first half of 2018, as several large-scale disaster events, such as Cyclone Idai in southern Africa and Cyclone Fani in India, occurred in areas with low insurance penetration.

Martin Bertogg, head of catastrophe perils at Swiss Re, said: “The experience of the first half of this year has once again exposed the existing protection gap issues in emerging countries.”

Bertogg added: “For example, Cyclone Idai showed just how fragile African coastal communities are, and in India, Cyclone Fani inflicted widespread damage and large uninsured losses. Similarly, the nature and location of the events underline the theme of secondary perils taking a larger share of the overall loss burden.”

More than 5,000 people lost their lives or went missing in disaster events during the period.

Of the US$44 billion in total global economic losses, natural catastrophes accounted for the majority, or US$40 billion in the first half of 2019, compared with US$45 billion in the year-earlier period.

The remaining US$4 billion of losses were caused by man-made disasters. Global insured losses from nat cats fell to US$15 billion from US$21 billion the year before, while insured losses from man-made disasters decreased to US$4 billion from US$5 billion.


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