Catastrophes: Global

WORLD, NATURAL CATASTROPHES

2016 NATURAL CATASTROPHES

On August 24, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake shook central Italy, killing at least 120, with many more still missing. The main quake struck at 3:36 a.m. local time about 10 miles from the town of Norcia in Umbria, about 106 miles northeast of Rome, where the quake could be felt. The main quake was followed by about 200 aftershocks including a 5.5 magnitude tremor.

Heavy rains swept through France and Germany in the beginning of June 2016. In France the resulting deadly floods were the worst in 30 years, and losses are estimated to be up to 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion). Insured losses are expected to reach up to 600 million euros ($682 million).

2015 NATURAL CATASTROPHES

According to Munich Re, in 2015, for the first time, more than 1,000 natural catastrophes were recorded in a single year. However, this is mainly due to improved communication of such events. 2015 saw the lowest catastrophe losses of any year since 2009. Overall losses totaled $90 billion of which roughly $27 billion was insured. In 2014 overall losses totaled $110 billion of which about $31 billion was insured. The natural catastrophes of 2015 claimed 23,000 lives, substantially more than the previous year's figure of 7,700. However, the number of victims was still some way below the annual average for the last 30 years (54,000). The year's most devastating natural catastrophe was the earthquake in Nepal, which occurred on April 25 northwest of the capital Kathmandu and reached a magnitude of 7.8.

The costliest insured global catastrophe loss in 2015 stemmed from a series of winter storms that struck the northeastern United States and Canada in February. Insured losses came to $2.1 billion; overall losses were $2.8 billion.  The April earthquake in Nepal ranked first in terms of overall losses, which totaled $4.8 billion, and by the number of fatalities, which were 9,000.

 

World Natural Catastrophe Losses First Half, 2016

Source: © 2016 Munich Re, NatCatSERVICE; *Property Claim Services®, a unit of ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® business, **Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ Inc) www.catiq.com. As of July 2016.

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World Natural Catastrophes, 2015

Source: © 2016 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2016.

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Top Five Largest Natural Catastrophes Of 2015 By Insured Losses

($ millions)

 

* Data based on information from PCS.

Source: © 2016 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2016.

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Top Five Largest Natural Catastrophes Of 2015 By Overall Losses

($ millions)

 

*U.S. losses from Property Claim Services.

Source: © 2016 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2016.

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Top Five Largest Natural Catastrophes Of 2015 By Losses

*U.S. losses from Property Claim Services.

Source: © 2016 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2016.

 

Top Five Largest Natural Catastrophes Of 2015 By Number Of Fatalities

Source: © 2016 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2016.

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Costliest Natural Catastrophes Since 1980

($ millions)

 

Source: © 2016 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2016.

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World Natural Catastrophe Losses, 1980–2015

(Overall and insured losses)

Source: © 2016 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of March 2016.

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World Natural Catastrophes, 1980–First Half 2016

(Number of events)

Source: © 2016 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of July 2016.

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WORLD INSURANCE LOSSES

Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters resulted in $37 billion in insured losses in 2015, compared with $36 billion in 2014 and well below the inflation-adjusted previous 10-year average of $62 billion, according to Swiss Re. Explosions at Tianjin port in China comprised the largest insured-loss event of the year and largest man-made loss event ever in Asia. There were 353 disaster events in 2015, of which 198 were natural disasters, the most ever recorded by sigma, a Swiss Re publication. Natural catastrophes accounted for $28 billion in insured losses. Asia suffered the most insured losses in 2015, including the explosions in Tianjin ($2.5-$3.5 billion in insured losses),Typhoon Goni in Japan ($1.1 billion) and flooding in southern India ($755 million). In addition, the earthquake in Nepal was the biggest disaster of the year globally, killing close to 9,000 people, the largest loss of life in a single event, with total losses estimated at $6 billion, only $160 million of which were insured. In the U.S., the biggest loss came from a mid-February winter storm that caused damage in 17 states, with Massachusetts hit hardest. Insured losses were $2.1 billion, mainly from burst frozen water pipes and ice weight or water damage to property.

 

Global Catastrophes, 2015

  Number of incidents Deaths Insured loss ($ millions)
Storms 102 2,011 $20,624
Floods 55 2,528 4,306
Drought, bush fires, heat waves 23 4,955 2,043
Earthquakes 13 9,500 510
Hail 3 0 306
Cold, frost 1 21 0
Other natural catastrophes 1 350 0
Total natural catastrophes 198 19,365 $27,789
Man-made disasters 155 6,994 $8,983
All catatrophes (1) 353 26,359 $36,772

(1) Based on events classified by Swiss Re as a catastrophe. The threshold is $19.7 million in insured losses for maritime disasters, $39.3 million for aviation disasters and $48.8 million for other losses or $97.7 million in total economic losses; or at least 20 dead or missing, 50 injured or 2,000 made homeless.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma,1/2016.

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Top 20 Most Costly World Insurance Losses, 2015 (1)

($ millions)

Rank Date Country Event Insured loss
in U.S. dollars
1 Aug. 12 China Port of Tianjin - explosions at a warehouse storing hazardous chemicals $2,500 to $3,500
2 Feb. 16 U.S. Severe winter storm, strong winds, heavy snowfall and ice accumulations 2,081
3 May 23 U.S. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, severe flooding in Texas and Oklahoma 1,461
4 Apr. 7 U.S. Thunderstorms, large hail, tornadoes, flash floods 1,204
5 Aug. 18 Japan, Philippines, North Korea Typhoon Goni 1,150
6 Dec. 22 U.K., Ireland Floods (Storms Eva and Frank) 1,032
7 Mar. 30 Germany, Netherlands, et. al. Winter Storm Niklas (2) 1,009
8 Apr. 18 U.S. Thunderstorms, large hail, tornadoes, flash floods 939
9 Sep. 12 U.S. Wildland fire “Valley Fire” 921
10 Jun. 21 U.S. Thunderstorms, large hail, tornadoes, flash floods 914
11 Dec. 4 U.K., Norway Cumbria floods (Storm Desmond) 884
12 May 6 U.S. Tornado outbreak (122 tornadoes), hail, strong winds, flash floods 850
13 Apr. 1 Mexico Fire and explosion on a drilling platform NA
14 Nov. 28 India Severe flash floods in Chennai 755
15 Apr. 20 Australia Storm (East Coast Low), flash floods, storm surge, hail 691
16 Apr. 24 U.S. Thunderstorms, large hail, tornadoes, flash floods 687
17 Aug. 2 U.S. Thunderstorms, large hail, flash floods, tornadoes 659
18 Oct. 3 France Torrential rains bring flash floods 652
19 Dec. 26 U.S. Thunderstorms, tornadoes (EF4 and EF3), blizzards, flash floods 636
20 Aug. 13 Czech Republic Gas leak at a petrochemicals plant causes an explosion and ensuing fire NA

(1) Property and business interruption losses, excludes life and liability losses. Includes flood losses in the U.S. insured via the National Flood Insurance Program. Loss data shown here may differ from figures shown elsewhere for the same event due to differences in the date of publication, the geographical area covered and other criteria used by organizations collecting the data.
(2) Loss numbers for Storm Niklas are Swiss Re estimates based on data from Perils AG.

NA=data not available.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, No. 1/2016; Property Claim Services (PCS®), a Verisk Analytics® business, insured losses for natural catastrophes in the United States.

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Top 10 Deadliest World Catastrophes, 2015

Rank Date Country Event Victims (1)
1 Apr. 25 Nepal, India, China, Bangladesh Earthquake (Mw 7.8), avalanche on Mount Everest, aftershocks 8,960
2 May 21 India Heatwave 2,248
3 Jun. 1 Pakistan Heatwave 1,270
4 Jul. 29 Europe Heatwave 1,200
5 Apr. 19 Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Boat carrying migrants capsizes 822
6 Sep. 23 Saudi Arabia Stampede and crush at the annual Hajj pilgrimage 769
7 Jan. 12 Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe Severe floods  451
8 Jun. 1 China Cruise ship hit by strong winds and rains capsizes on Yangtze River 442
9 Apr. 13 Italy, Mediterranean Sea Boat carrying migrants capsizes 400
10 Oct. 26 Afghanistan, Pakistan, India Earthquake (Mw 7.5)  399

(1) Dead and missing.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, No. 1/2016.

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World Insured Catastrophe Losses, 2006-2015 (1)

(2015 $ millions)

Year Weather-related
natural catastrophes
Man-made Earthquakes Total
2006 $14,699 $5,991 $95 $20,786
2007 26,876 6,596 640 34,113
2008 48,330 9,231 464 58,025
2009 23,747 4,338 673 28,758
2010 32,309 5,186 14,671 52,167
2011 69,311 6,768 56,486 132,564
2012 72,236 6,067 1,765 80,068
2013 36,569 7,866 46 44,480
2014 28,384 7,045 313 35,741
2015 27,279 8,983 510 36,772

(1) In order to maintain comparability of the data over the course of time, the minimum threshold for losses was adjusted annually to compensate for inflation in the United Sates. Adjusted to 2015 dollars by Swiss Re.

Source: Swiss Re.

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Top 10 Most Costly World Insurance Losses, 1970-2015 (1)

(2015 $ millions)

Rank Date Country Event Insured loss
1 Aug. 25, 2005 U.S., Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Katrina, storm surge, damage to oil rigs $79,663
2 Mar. 11, 2011 Japan Earthquake (Mw 9.0) triggers tsunami 36,865
3 Oct. 24, 2012 U.S., Caribbean, Canada Hurricane Sandy, massive storm surge 36,115
4 Aug. 23, 1992 U.S., Bahamas Hurricane Andrew, floods 27,017
5 Sep. 11, 2001 U.S. Terror attacks on WTC, Pentagon and other buildings 25,129
6 Jan. 17, 1994 U.S. Northridge earthquake (Mw 6.7) 24,455
7 Sep. 6, 2008 U.S., Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Hurricane Ike 22,343
8 Feb. 22, 2011 New Zealand Earthquake (Mw 6.1), aftershocks 16,853
9 Sep. 2, 2004 U.S., Caribbean, Venezuela Hurricane Ivan, damage to oil rigs 16,180
10 Jul. 27, 2011 Thailand Heavy monsoon rains, extreme flooding  15,799

(1) Property and business interruption losses, excludes life and liability losses. Includes flood losses in the United States insured via the National Flood Insurance Program. Adjusted to 2015 dollars by Swiss Re.

Note: Loss data shown here may differ from figures shown elsewhere for the same event due to differences in the date of publication, the geographical area covered and other criteria used by organizations collecting the data.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, 1/2016.

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Top 10 Deadliest World Catastrophes, 1970-2015

Rank Date Country Event Victims (1)
1 Nov. 11, 1970 Bangladesh Storm and flood catastrophe 300,000
2 Jul. 28, 1976 China Earthquake (M 7.6) 255,000
3 Jan. 12, 2010 Haiti Earthquake (Mw 7.0), aftershocks 222,570
4 Dec. 26, 2004 Indonesia, Thailand et al. Earthquake (Mw 9), tsunami in Indian Ocean 220,000
5 May 2, 2008 Myanmar (Burma), Bay of Bengal Tropical cyclone Nargis, Irrawaddy Delta flooded  138,300
6 Apr. 29, 1991 Bangladesh Tropical cyclone Gorky 138,000
7 May 12, 2008 China Earthquake (Mw 7.9) in Sichuan, aftershocks 87,449
8 Oct. 8, 2005 Pakistan, India, Afghanistan Earthquake (Mw 7.6), aftershocks, landslides 74,310
9 May 31, 1970 Peru Earthquake (M 7.9), massive avalanche and floods 66,000
10 Jun. 15, 2010 Russia, Czech Republic  Heat wave with temperatures up to 40◦ Celsius 55,630

(1) Dead and missing.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, No. 1/2016.

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MAN-MADE DISASTERS

In 2015, 353 catastrophic events occurred, including 198 natural catastrophes, the highest ever recorded, and 155 man-made disasters, according to Swiss Re. Natural catastrophes caused about $28 billion in insured losses in 2015, while man-made disasters resulted in additional losses of about $9 billion. The costliest of both man-made and natural disasters in 2015 was the two explosions at the port of Tianjin in China, which triggered property claims of $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion. The September 11 terrorist attack in the U.S. was the costliest man-made disaster in history, based on Swiss Re data going back to 1970. It caused $25.1 billion in insured losses (in 2015 dollars). A fire in a  garment factory in Bangladesh in April 2014 resulted in 1,127 deaths, making it one of the deadliest industrial fires in modern history.

 

Man-Made Disasters In 2015

  Number of incidents Deaths Insured loss ($ millions)
All man-made disasters (1) 155 6,994 $8,983
       
Major fires, explosions 48 1,123 $5,629
Industry, warehouses 17 449 3,893
Oil, gas 9 130 1,553
Hotels 1 0 100
Other buildings 11 213 84
Other fires, explosions 10 331 0
Aviation disasters 16 685 $1,001
Space 5 0 664
Crashes 9 685 258
Damage on ground  1 0 40
Explosions, fires 1 0 39
Maritime disasters 31 2,487 $1,679
Drilling platforms 5 45 1,553
Passenger ships 20 2,259 65
Freighters 2 19 62
Other maritime accidents 4 164 0
Rail disasters (includes cableways) 12 141 $200
Mining accidents 8 352 $450
Miscellaneous 40 2,206 $24
Social unrest 3 22 24
Terrorism 27 1,082 0
Other miscellaneous losses 10 1,102 0

(1) Based on events classified by Swiss Re as a catastrophe. The threshold is $19.7 million in insured losses for maritime disasters, $39.3 million for aviation disasters and $48.8 million for other losses or at least 20 dead or missing, 50 injured or 2,000 made homeless.

NA=Data not available.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, 1/2016.

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Top 20 World Property Damage Losses In The Hydrocarbon Industry (1)

(US $ millions)

Rank Date Plant type Event type Location Country Property loss (2)
1 Jul. 7, 1988 Upstream Explosion/fire Piper Alpha, North Sea U.K. $1,810
2 Oct. 23,1989 Petrochem Vapour cloud explosion Pasadena, Texas U.S. 1,400
3 Jan. 19, 2004 Gas processing Explosion/fire Skikda Algeria 940
4 Jun. 4, 2009 Upstream Collision Norwegian Sector North Sea 840
5 Mar. 19, 1989 Upstream Explosion/fire Gulf of Mexico U.S. 830
6 Jun. 25, 2000 Refinery Explosion/fire Mina Al-Ahmadi Kuwait 820
7 May 15, 2001 Upstream Explosion/fire/sinking Campos Basin Brasil 790
8 Sep. 25, 1998 Gas processing Explosion Longford, Victoria Australia 750
9 Apr. 24, 1988 Upstream Blowout Enchova, Campos Basin Brazil 700
10 Sep. 21, 2001 Petrochemical Explosion Toulouse France 680
11 May 4, 1988 Petrochemical Explosion Henderson, Nevada U.S. 640
12 May 5, 1988 Refinery Vapour cloud explosion Norco, Louisiana U.S. 610
13 Mar. 11, 2011  Refinery Earthquake (3) Sendai Japan 600
14 Apr. 21, 2010 Upstream Blowout/explosion/fire Gulf of Mexico U.S. 600
15 Sep. 12, 2008 Refinery Hurricane Texas U.S. 550
16 Jun. 13, 2013 Petrochemical Explosion/fire Geismar, Louisiana U.S. 510
17 Apr. 2, 2013 Refinery Flooding/fire La Plata, Ensenada Argentina 500 (4)
18 Dec. 25, 1997 Gas processing Explosion/fire Bintulu, Sarawak Malaysia 490
19 Jul. 27, 2005 Upstream Collision/fire Mumbai High North Field India 480
20 Nov. 14, 1987 Petrochemical Vapour cloud explosion Pampa, Texas USA 480

(1) Property damage, debris removal and clean-up costs.
(2) Inflated to December 2013 values.
(3) Loss to refinery following the Tohuku earthquake.
(4) Preliminary.

Source: Energy Practice, Marsh & McLennan Companies.

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NUCLEAR INCIDENTS

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rates the severity of nuclear incidents on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) from one (indicating an anomaly) to seven (indicating a major event). The scale considers an event’s impact based on three criteria: its effect on people and the environment; whether it caused unsafe levels of radiation in a facility; and if preventive measures did not function as intended. Scales six and seven designate full meltdowns, where the nuclear fuel reactor core overheats and melts. Partial meltdowns, in which the fuel is damaged, are rated four or five.

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency assigned a provisional rating of seven to the March 2011 accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The 1986 Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union is the only other incident to rate a seven. The Chernobyl incident killed 56 people directly and thousands of others indirectly through cancer and other diseases. The 2011 incident released high amounts of radiation and caused widespread evacuations in affected areas but no deaths to date.

The 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the worst nuclear accident in the United States, was designated a five. Insurers paid about $71 million in liability claims and litigation costs associated with the accident. In addition to the liability payments to the public under the Price-Anderson Act, $300 million was paid by a pool of insurers to the operator of the damaged nuclear power plant under its property insurance policy.

 

Selected Examples Of Historic Nuclear Events, Classified By The Ines (1)

Level INES description Example
1 Anomaly Breach of operating limits at nuclear facilities
2 Incident Atucha, Argentina, 2005 - Overexposure of a worker at a power reactor exceeding the annual limit
3 Serious incident Sellafield, U.K., 2005 - Release of large quantity of radioactive material, contained within the installation
4 Accident with local consequences Tokaimura, Japan, 1999 - Fatal exposure of workers following an event at a nuclear facility
5 Accident with wider consequences 3 Mile Island, U.S., 1979 - Severe damage to reactor core. Minimal breach of outside environment
6 Serious accident Kyshtym, Russia, 1957 - Significant release of radioactive material from the explosion of high activity waste tank
7 Major accident Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986 - Widespread health and environmental effects from explosion in power plant

(1) International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.

Source: International Atomic Energy Agency. INES Flyer.

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