Catastrophes: Global

WORLD, NATURAL CATASTROPHES

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2014 Natural Catastrophes

Worldwide insured natural catastrophe losses in 2014 totaled $31 billion, down from $39 billion in 2013. The 2014 insured losses were below the inflation-adjusted average for the last 10 years, at $58 billion, according to a January 2015 presentation by Munich Re and the Insurance Information Institute. Overall losses (including insured and economic losses) totaled $110 billion in 2014, down from $140 billion in 2013 and well below the inflation-adjusted prior 10-year average of $190 billion. In 2014, 7,700 people lost their lives in natural catastrophes worldwide, down considerably from 21,000 lives lost in 2013 and from the 10-year average of 97,000. Munich Re notes that no single natural catastrophe event stands out as the worst event of the year. In addition, no natural disaster had economic losses over $10 billion. There were 980 loss events in 2014, compared with 920 in 2013 and the 10-year average of 830.

 

WORLD NATURAL CATASTROPHE LOSSES, 2014

Source: © 2015 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2015.

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WORLD NATURAL CATASTROPHES, 2014

Source: © 2015 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2015.

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THE FIVE LARGEST NATURAL CATASTROPHES OF 2014 BY INSURED LOSSES

($ millions)

 

Source: © 2015 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2015.

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THE FIVE LARGEST NATURAL CATASTROPHES OF 2014 BY OVERALL LOSSES

($ millions)

 

*U.S. losses from Property Claim Services.
**Time period for several severe storm events.

Source: © 2015 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2015.

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THE FIVE LARGEST NATURAL CATASTROPHES OF 2014 BY NUMBER OF FATALITIES

Source: © 2015 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2015.

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COSTLIEST NATURAL CATASTROPHES SINCE 1950

($ millions)

 

Source: © 2015 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2015.

 

 

WORLD NATURAL CATASTROPHE LOSSES, 1980–2014

(Overall and insured losses)

Source: © 2015 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2015.

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WORLD NATURAL CATASTROPHES, 1980–2014

(Number of events)

Source: © 2015 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2015.

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WORLD, TOTAL CATASTROPHES (NATURAL DISASTERS AND MAN-MADE DISASTERS)

Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters resulted in $35 billion in insured losses in 2014, down from $44 billion in 2013, according to Swiss Re. Weather events in the United States, Europe and Japan caused the most insured losses. There were 189 worldwide natural catastrophes in 2014, the most ever recorded by sigma, a Swiss Re publication. The catastrophes accounted for $28 billion in insured losses. The United States experienced the largest insured loss event of 2014—a spate of severe storms with hail across five days in May struck from Colorado to Pennsylvania, causing losses of $2.9 billion. Harsh winters in the United States and Japan were another major cause of losses. Insured losses from all winter storms in the United States totaled $2.4 billion, more than double the average of the previous ten years, while in Japan, severe cold brought the heaviest snows in decades and caused insured losses of $2.5 billion.

 

GLOBAL CATASTROPHES, 2014

  Number of incidents Deaths Insured loss ($ millions)
Floods 61 3,064 $9,137
Storms 85 1,195 18,397
Earthquakes 15 897 313
Drought, bush fires, heat waves 10 335 150
Cold, frost 6 745 53
Hail 5 7 6,164
Other natural catastrophes 7 823 34
Total natural catastrophes 189 7,066 $27,749
Man-made disasters 147 5,711 $6,958
All catatrophes (1) 336 12,777 $34,708

(1) Based on events classified by Swiss Re as a catastrophe. The threshold is $19.6 million in insured losses for maritime disasters, $39.3 million for aviation disasters and $48.8 million for other losses or $97.6 million in total economic losses; or at least 20 dead or missing, 50 injured or 2,000 made homeless.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, 2/2015.

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THE TWENTY MOST COSTLY WORLD INSURANCE LOSSES, 2014 (1)

($ millions)

Rank Date Country Event Insured loss
in U.S. dollars
1 May 18 U.S. Severe thunderstorms, large hail $2,935
2 Feb. 8 Japan Snow storm 2,502
3 Jun. 8 France, Germany, Belgium Wind and hailstorm Ela 2,190
4 Sep. 14 Mexico Hurricane Odile 1,700
5 Jan. 5 U.S. Winter storm 1,669
6 Jun. 3 U.S. Severe thunderstorms, large hail, tornadoes 1,269
7 Apr. 27 U.S. Thunderstorms, large hail, 83 tornadoes,
severe flash floods
1,220
8 Apr. 2 U.S. Severe storms, large hail, tornadoes 1,084
9 Jun. 15 Russia Major fire and explosion at oil refinery NA
10 Sep. 27 U.S. Thunderstorms with winds up to 67 miles per hour,
hail, flash floods
905
11 Nov. 30  Australia Hailstorm 852
12 Apr. 12 U.S. Thunderstorms, large hail, tornadoes 678
13 Jul. 7 U.S. Fire at petrochemical plant NA
14 May 10 U.S. Thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, flashfloods 635
15 Oct. 12 India Cyclone Hudhud 632
16 Mar. 27 U.S. Thunderstorms, winds up to 80 miles per hour,
large hail, tornadoes
592
17 Jun. 14 U.S. Thunderstorms, more than 100 tornadoes, hail 545
18 Aug. 11 U.S. Torrential rains trigger severe floods 539
19 Jul. 13 Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Fighting at airport destroys aircrafts NA
20 Jan. 1 U.K. Floods 530

(1) Property and business interruption losses, excluding 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.

NA=Data not available.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, No. 2/2015; The Property Claim Services® (PCS®) unit of ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® company, insured losses for natural catastrophes in the United States.

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THE TEN DEADLIEST WORLD CATASTROPHES, 2014

Rank Date Country Event Victims (1)
1 Aug. 3 China Earthquake (Mw 6.1), aftershocks and landslides 731
2 Sept. 3 India, Pakistan Severe monsoon floods 665
3 Apr. 13 Peru Coldwave, freezing temperatures 505
4 Apr. 16 North Pacific Ocean, South Korea Passenger ferry sinks 304
5 May 13 Turkey Fire at coalmine 301
6 Jul. 17 Ukraine Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6ER (FlightMH17) crashes 298
7 May 2 Afghanistan Heavy rains trigger massive landslide 256
8 Mar. 22 Uganda Overcrowded boat carrying refugees capsizes on Lake Albert 251
9 Jan. 13 Sudan Overcrowded boat capsizes on the Nile 250
10 Aug. 13 Nepal Monsoon foods 241

(1) Dead and missing.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, No. 2/2015.

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WORLD INSURED CATASTROPHE LOSSES, 2005-2014 (1)

(2014 $ millions)

Year Weather-related
natural catastrophes
Man-made Earthquakes Total
2005 $123,018 $6,593 $284 $129,895
2006 14,685 5,984 95 20,764
2007 26,840 6,590 640 34,069
2008 46,909 9,094 464 56,467
2009 23,764 4,599 672 29,036
2010 32,212 5,181 14,640 52,032
2011 68,980 6,255 56,429 131,664
2012 72,235 6,030 1,894 80,159
2013 36,531 7,857 46 44,434
2014 27,437 6,958 313 34,708

(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 2014 dollars by Swiss Re.

Source: Swiss Re.

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THE TEN MOST COSTLY WORLD INSURANCE LOSSES, 1970-2013 (1)

(2013 $ millions)

Rank Date Country Event Insured loss (2)
1 Aug. 25, 2005 U.S., Gulf of Mexico,
Bahamas, North Atlantic
Hurricane Katrina, storm surge, levee failure,
damage to oil rigs
$80,373
2 Mar. 11, 2011 Japan Earthquake (Mw 9.0) triggers tsunami, aftershocks 37,665
3 Oct. 24, 2012 U.S., et al. Hurricane Sandy, storm surge 36,890
4 Aug. 23, 1992 U.S., Bahamas Hurricane Andrew, floods 27,594
5 Sep. 11, 2001 U.S. Terror attacks on WTC, Pentagon
and other buildings
25,664
6 Jan. 17, 1994 U.S. Northridge earthquake (M 6.6) 22,857
7 Sep. 6, 2008 U.S., Caribbean: Gulf of
Mexico, et al.
Hurricane Ike, floods, offshore damage 22,751
8 Sep. 2, 2004 U.S., Caribbean; Barbados, et al. Hurricane Ivan, damage to oil rigs 17,218
9 Jul. 27, 2011 Thailand Floods caused by heavy monsoon rains 16,519
10 Feb. 22, 2011 New Zealand Earthquake (Mw 6.3), aftershocks 16,142

(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.
(2) Adjusted to 2013 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, No. 1/2014.

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THE TEN DEADLIEST WORLD CATASTROPHES, 1970-2014

Rank Date Country Event Victims (1)
1 Nov. 11, 1970 Bangladesh Storm and flood catastrophe 300,000
2 Jul. 28, 1976 China Earthquake (M 7.5) 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 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 7.7), 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. 2/2015.

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MAN-MADE DISASTERS

In 2013, 308 catastrophic events occurred, including 150 natural catastrophes and 158 man-made disasters, according to Swiss Re. Natural catastrophes caused about $37 billion in insured losses in 2013, while man-made disasters resulted in additional losses of about $8 billion. The costliest man-made disaster in 2013 was a fire that destroyed a cargo vessel in the Indian Ocean near Bahrain, which caused $300 million in insured damages. The September 11 terrorist attack in the U.S. was costliest man-made disaster in history, based on Swiss Re data going back to 1970. It caused $25 billion in insured losses (in 2013 dollars). A fire in a  garment factory in Bangladesh in April resulted in 1,127 deaths, making it one of the world’s deadliest industrial fires in modern history.

 

MAN-MADE DISASTERS IN 2014

  Number of incidents Deaths Insured loss ($ millions)
All man-made disasters (1) 147 5,711 $6,958
       
Major fires, explosions 43 490 $4,257
Industry, warehouses 12 152 1,278
Oil, gas 18 40 2,928
Other buildings 9 296 50
Other fires, explosions 4 2 NA
Aviation disasters 12 960 $916
Crashes 7 940 337
Explosions, fires 1 20 NA
Space 4 NA NA
Maritime disasters  39 2,118 $783
Freighters 3 8 156
Passenger ships 28 2,000 231
Drilling platforms 4 NA NA
Other maritime accidents 4 110 70
Rail disasters (includes cableways) 5 127 NA
Mining accidents 7 400 $110
Collapse of buildings/bridges 3 42 NA
Miscellaneous 38 1,574 $893
Social unrest 1 21 350
Terrorism 28 1,361 543
Other miscellaneous losses 9 192 NA

(1) Based on events classified by Swiss Re as a catastrophe. The threshold is $19.3 million in insured losses for maritime disasters, $38.6 million for aviation disasters and $48.0 million for other losses or $96 million in total economic loss; or at least 20 dead or missing, 50 injured or 2,000 made homeless.

NA=Data not available.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, 2/2015.

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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 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 U.S., 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.

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