Facts + Statistics: Global catastrophes

2017 natural catastrophes

According to Munich Re, overall losses from world-wide natural catastrophes in 2017 totaled $330 billion dollars, up from $184 billion in 2016. 2017 losses resulted from 710 events, compared with 780 events in 2016. Insured losses from these events rose to $135 billion in 2017, up from $50.7 billion in 2016. Insured losses in 2017 were almost three times higher than the average of the past 10 years, at $49 billion and almost four times higher than the average for the past 30 years, at $35 billion (adjusted for inflation). There were 10,00 fatalities from natural catastrophes in 2017, compared with 9,650 deaths recorded in 2016.

Ranked by insured losses, the costliest natural catastrophe in 2017 was Hurricane Irma that caused $32 billion in insured losses in the United States and the Caribbean. Hurricane Harvey in the United States resulted in $30 billion in insured losses. Rounding out the top 5 catastrophes by insured losses were Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean with $30 billion in losses; wildfires in the United States in October that resulted in losses of $8.0 billion; and hailstorms in May that caused $2.5 billion in losses.

World natural catastrophes, 2017

 

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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World natural catastrophe losses, 2017

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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World natural catastrophes by type of event, 2017

(Percentage distribution)

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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World natural catastrophes by continent, 2017

(Percentage distribution)

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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World weather-related catastrophes by type of event, 2017

(Percentage distribution)

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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World weather-related natural catastrophes by continent, 2017

(Percentage distribution)

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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Top 10 world costliest natural catastrophes by overall losses, 2017 (1)

 

(1) U.S. losses include the loss estimation based on Property Claim Services (PCS).

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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Top 10 world costliest natural catastrophes by insured losses, 2017 (1)

(1) U.S. losses include the loss estimation based on Property Claims Services (PCS).

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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Top 5 world natural catastrophes by fatalities, 2017

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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World natural catastrophes by overall and insured losses, 1980–2017

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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Number of world natural catastrophes, 1980-2017

(Number of relevant events by peril)

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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World weather-related natural catastrophes by overall and insured losses, 1980-2017

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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World weather-related natural catastrophes by peril, 1980-2017

(Number of relevant events by peril)

Source: © 2018 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of January 2018.

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World Natural Catastrophes By Type Of Event, 1980-2016

(Percentage distribution)

Source: © 2017 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of February 2017.

World Natural Catastrophes By Continent, 1980-2016

(Percentage distribution)

Source: © 2017 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of February 2017.

World Weather-Related Natural Catastrophes By Type Of Event, 1980-2016

(Percentage distribution)

Source: © 2017 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of February 2017.

World Weather-Related Natural Catastrophes By Continent, 1980-2016

(Percentage distribution)

Source: © 2017 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of February 2017.

World insurance losses

Global natural catastrophes and man-made disasters resulted in $144 billion in insured losses in 2017, the highest annual insured losses since Swiss Re began keeping records. The top three events in terms of insured losses were from three hurricanes, Maria, Irma and Harvey, accounting for a total of $92 billion, followed by two wildfires that resulted in almost $10.5 billion in insured losses. Insured losses were $56 billion in 2016. In 2017 insured losses were well above the inflation-adjusted previous 10-year average of $58 billion. There were 301 disaster events in 2017, of which 183 were natural disasters, accounting for $136 billion in insured losses. By region, North America accounted for the majority of insured losses in 2017, with about $119 billion and almost 83 percent of world insured losses. Most of those losses resulted from hurricanes—Maria, Harvey and Irma—as well as wildfires and flooding. More than 11,000 people world-wide perished in natural and man-made disasters in 2017. In terms of human loss, flooding in Sierra Leone was the worst disaster, claiming 1,141 lives. An earthquake on the Iran-Iraq border was the second-worst, as 630 people perished.

Global Catastrophes, 2017

Event Number of incidents Deaths Insured loss ($ millions)
Storms 82 1,642 $111,475
Drought, bush fires, heat waves 14 435 14,237
Hail 8 0 7,549
Floods 55 3,515 2,144
Earthquakes 12 1,184 1,615
Cold, frost 5 153 1,038
Other natural catastrophes 7 1,541 0
Total natural catastrophes 183 8,470 $138,057
Man-made disasters 118 2,934 $6,246
All catastrophes (1) 301 11,404 $144,303

(1) Based on events classified by Swiss Re as a catastrophe. The threshold is $20.3 million in insured losses for maritime disasters, $40.7 million for aviation disasters and $50.5 million for other losses or $101.0 million in total economic losses; or at least 20 dead or missing, 50 injured or 2,000 made homeless.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, 1/2018.

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Top 10 Deadliest World Catastrophes, 2017

Rank Date Country Event Victims (1)
1 Aug. 14 Sierra Leone Heavy rains trigger flood and massive landslide and debris flow in Babadorie River Valley 1,141
2 Nov. 12 Iran, Iraq Earthquake Mw 7.3 on the Iran-Iraq border 630
3 Aug. 12 India Floods caused by heavy monsoon rains in Bihar; River Gandak burst its banks in 8 points 514
4 Sep. 19 Mexico Earthquake Mw 7.1 369
5 Mar. 31 Colombia Torrential rains caused Mocoa, Sangoyaco and Mulato to overflow and trigger massive landslide 336
6 Dec. 22 Philippines Tropical storm Tembin (Vinta) triggers flooding 331
7 Nov .24 Egypt Bomb explosion at a mosque 311
8 May 24 Sri Lanka Torrential rains trigger floods along the Kalu River Basin, landslides 293
9 Apr. 12 India Heatwave 264
10 Jan. 14 Zimbabwe Heavy rains exacerbated by remnants of Cyclone Dineo trigger floods 251

(1) Dead and missing.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, No. 1/2018.

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Top 20 Costliest World Insurance Losses, 2017 (1)

(US$ millions)

Rank Date Country/region Event Insured loss
in U.S. dollars
1 Sep. 19 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Maria $32,000
2 Sep. 6 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Irma 30,000
3 Aug. 25 U.S. Hurricane Harvey (Category 4), severe inland flood in Houston 30,000
4 Oct. 8 U.S. Wildland fire “Tubbs Fires“ 7,710
5 Oct. 8 U.S. Wildland fire “Atlas Fire“ 2,666
6 May 8 U.S. Hailstorm, thunderstorms, tornadoes, severe hail damage in Denver, CO 2,507
7 Mar. 26 U.S. Hailstorm, thunderstorms, tornadoes 1,967
8 Dec. 4 U.S. Wildland fire “Thomas Fire“ 1,787
9 Mar. 6 U.S. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail 1,600
10 Jun. 11 U.S. Hailstorm in Minnesota 1,549
11 Feb. 28 U.S. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, large hail 1,370
12 Mar. 28 Australia Cyclone Debbie, storm surge 1,306
13 Sep. 19 Mexico Earthquake Mw 7.1 1,200
14 Jun. 27 U.S. Thunderstorms, large hail, tornadoes 1,131
15 Aug. 23 China, Viet Nam, Hong Kong Typhoon Hato 1,107
16 Apr. 19 Europe Cold spell brings frost damage 930
17 Jan. 11 United Arab Emirates Fire at a refinery (2)
18 Oct. 18 Philippines, Japan Typhoon Lan (Paolo) 888
19 Jan. 18 U.S. Major tornado outbreak, 1 EF3 tornado in Hattiesburg, MS 853
20 Mar. 14 Canada Fire at a refinery (2)

(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) Data not released by Swiss Re.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, No. 1/2018; Property Claim Services (PCS®), a Verisk Analytics® business, insured losses for natural catastrophes in the United States.

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World Insured Catastrophe Losses, 2008-2017 (1)

(2017 $ millions)

Year Weather-related
natural catastrophes
Man-made Earthquakes/tsunami Total
2008 $49,890 $9,547 $480 $59,917
2009 24,447 4,486 696 29,630
2010 32,869 5,364 18,211 56,443
2011 72,253 7,377 59,327 138,958
2012 68,714 6,275 1,825 76,815
2013 37,633 8,135 47 45,815
2014 30,094 7,286 324 37,704
2015 28,134 9,813 527 38,474
2016 38,695 8,377 8,863 55,935
2017 136,442 6,246 1,615 144,303

(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 2017 dollars by Swiss Re.

Source: Swiss Re Institute.

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Top 10 Costliest World Insurance Losses, 1970-2017 (1)

(2017 $ millions)

Rank Date Country Event Insured loss
1 Aug. 25, 2005 U.S., Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Katrina, storm surge, damage to oil rigs $82,394
2 Mar. 3, 2011 Japan Earthquake (Mw 9.0) triggers tsunami 38,128
3 Sep. 19, 2017 U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean Hurricane Maria 32,000
4 Oct. 24, 2012 U.S., Caribbean, Canada Hurricane Sandy, storm surge 30,774
5 Sep. 6, 2017 U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean Hurricane Irma 30,000
6 Aug. 25, 2017 U.S. Hurricane Harvey 30,000
7 Aug. 23, 1992 U.S., Bahamas Hurricane Andrew, storm surge 27,943
8 Sep. 11, 2001 U.S. Terror attacks on WTC, Pentagon and other buildings 25,991
9 Jan. 1, 1994 U.S. Northridge earthquake (Mw 6.7) 25,293
10 Sep. 6, 2008 U.S., Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Ike, floods, damage to oil rigs 23,051

(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. U.S. natural catastrophe figures based on Property Claim Services data. Adjusted to 2017 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. 1/2018.

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Top 10 Deadliest World Catastrophes, 1970-2017

Rank Date Country Event Victims (1)
1 Nov. 11, 1970 Bangladesh Storm and flood catastrophe 300,000
2 Jul. 28, 1976 China Earthquake (Mw 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 138,373
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 (Mw 7.9) triggers rock slide 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. 1/2018.

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Man-made disasters

There were 301 catastrophic events in 2017, including 183 natural disasters and 118 man-made disaster, according to Swiss Re. Natural catastrophes resulted in $138.1 billion in insured losses, while man-made disasters caused $6.2 billion in insured losses. The deadliest man-made event was a bomb explosion in a mosque in Egypt that killed 311 people. Terrorism world-wide claimed 731 lives, up from 601 lives in 2016. In terms of insured losses, major fires and explosion were the costliest with $5.4 billion in losses. 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 26 billion in insured losses (in 2017 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, 2017

Event Number of incidents Deaths Insured loss ($ millions)
All man-made disasters (1) 118 2,934 $6,246
       
Major fires, explosions 45 477 $5,439
Oil, gas 15 36 3,056
Industry, warehouses 14 73 1,845
Other buildings 11 308 382
Other fires, explosions 3 22 81
Department stores 2 38 76
Aviation disasters 7 165 $410
Space 2 0 188
Crashes 3 165 131
Damage on ground 2 0 90
Miscellaneous 21 925 $200
Social unrest 1 0 200
Terrorism 13 731 0
Other miscellaneous losses 7 194 0
Maritime disasters 33 1,163 $197
Drilling platforms 1 0 90
Freighters 2 22 75
Tankers 1 0 32
Passenger ships 27 1,087 0
Other maritime accidents 2 54 0
Rail disasters (includes cableways) 10 140 $0
Mining accidents 2 64 $0

(1) Based on events classified by Swiss Re as a catastrophe. The threshold is $20.3 million in insured losses for maritime disasters, $40.7 million for aviation disasters and $50.5 million for other losses or $101.0 million in total economic losses; or at least 20 dead or missing, 50 injured or 2,000 made homeless.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, 1/2018.

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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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