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April sees worst natural disaster losses for five years

Impact Forecasting has published the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during April 2016.

The report highlights the two major earthquakes which struck southern Japan during the month, causing massive devastation and killing at least 66 people, with more than 4,000 others injured. Total economic losses, including physical damage to residential and commercial structures, vehicles and infrastructure, and business interruption, were expected to exceed JPY 1.12 trillion (USD 10 billion).
The General Insurance Association of Japan reported that nearly 70,000 non-life claims had been filed, as total insured losses were expected to breach JPY 225 billion (USD 2.0 billion).

Meanwhile, a major magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Ecuador's northwest coast on April 16th, killing at least 660 people and injuring more than 17,638 others. According to government figures, the total economic cost for the damage and reconstruction was expected to be above USD 3.0 billion. Given low insurance penetration levels, the insured loss was set to be a fraction of the overall financial cost.

Natural hazard events to have occurred elsewhere during April include:

  • Five outbreaks of severe convective storms impacted the United States, causing total aggregated economic losses estimated to exceed USD 4.0 billion, and insurance losses beyond USD 3.0 billion.
  • Excessive rains led to considerable flooding across Argentina, with the provinces of Entre Rios, Corrientes, Santa Fe, Chaco, Formosa, and Santiago del Estero and Uruguay sustaining the worst damage. Total economic losses to agriculture alone were estimated at ARS 18.6 billion (USD 1.3 billion).
  • A prodigious US rainfall event caused major flash flooding in the greater Houston metro region, resulting in total economic losses expected to exceed USD 1.0 billion.
  • Major flood events were recorded in Chile, China, Ecuador, Uruguay, Haiti, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Uganda, Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia, India, and Afghanistan.
  • The combination of heavy rainfall from two tropical disturbances and Tropical Cyclone Zena led to flooding across several islands of the Fiji archipelago, killing two people.
  • An unseasonably intense heatwave killed at least 300 people in India, with the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh noting temperatures above 44°C (111°F).

Steve Bowen, director at Impact Forecasting, said: "The global footprint of natural disaster losses in April was significant. Between major events such as the Kumamoto earthquake, the severe convective storms and flooding in the United States, and flooded agriculture in Argentina, economic and insured losses are poised to make this the costliest April since 2011. The large differential between the economic and insured losses is yet another reminder of how much opportunity exists for the insurance industry to help engage with governments, communities and businesses around the world to provide the risk expertise that can help mitigate the effects of natural disasters."

To view the full Impact Forecasting April 2016 Global Catastrophe Recap report click here.


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