Severe convective storms are among the most common, most damaging natural catastrophes in the United States. The result of warm, moist air rising from the earth, they manifest in various ways, depending on atmospheric conditions—from drenching thunderstorms with lightning, to tornadoes, hail, or destructive straight-line winds. Recent years have seen an increase in organized lines of thunderstorms with widespread damaging winds, known as derechos. As of late September 2023, U.S. insured losses due to severe convective storms had exceeded $50 billion for the first time on record for a single year, according to Gallagher Re.
Rather than the physical destructive force of natural catastrophes themselves, a Swiss Re study finds the main driver of high losses in recent years to be “economic growth, accumulation of asset values in exposed areas, urbanization and rising populations—often in regions susceptible to natural perils.” Citing the prevailing inflation of the past two years, Swiss Re said, “The effect of high prices has been to increase the nominal value of buildings, vehicles, and other insurable assets, in turn pushing up insurance claims for damage caused by Mother Nature.”
(As of October 23, 2023)