Facts + Statistics: Global catastrophes

Global Catastrophes

  • Insured losses from natural catastrophes totaled $130 billion, 76 percent above the 21st century average, and 18 percent higher than 2020, according to the 2021 Weather, Climate and Catastrophe Insight report from Aon.
  • Hurricane Ida was the largest insured loss event in 2021 and the fourth costliest hurricane on record with $36 billion in insured losses.
  • There were 20 billion-dollar insured loss events in 2021, the fourth highest on record. Insured losses of $17 billion from winter weather, was the costliest on record for this peril.
  • The $13 billion insured losses from European floods was the costliest disaster on record for the continent. Aon noted that roughly 38 percent of global economic losses were covered by insurance, translating to a protection gap of 62 percent.
  • Natural catastrophes in 2021 resulted in a total global economic loss of $270 billion, according to Swiss Re’s sigma report. Of those global economic losses, only $111 billion were actually insured. (Aon’s and Swiss Re’s figures differ because of different collection methods and criteria for classifying events).
  • According to the Swiss Re sigma report, man-made disasters totaled $10 billion in 2021, of which $8 billion were insured.
  • Marsh publishes a biennial report on the 100 largest losses in the hydrocarbon industry which summarizes the largest property damage losses from the hydrocarbon extraction, transport, and processing industry between 1974 and 2021.

World Natural Disaster Events Ranked by Number Of Perils and Insured Losses, 2021 (1)

 

Rank Peril Number of events Rank Peril Insured loss (US$ billions)
1 Severe weather (2) 135 1 Tropical cyclone $39
2 Flooding 133 2 Severe weather (2) 37
3 Tropical cyclone 37 3 Flooding 22
4 Winter weather 25 4 Winter weather 17
5 Earthquake 24 5 Drought 6
6 Wildfire 19 6 Wildfire 5
7 European windstorm 11 7 Earthquake 3
8 Drought 10 8 European windstorm 2
9 Other 7 9 Other 0
  Total 401   Total $131

(1) Natural disasters that cause at least US$25 million in insured losses; or 10 deaths; or 50 people injured; or 2,000 filed claims or homes and structures damaged. As of January 2022.
(2) Includes severe convective storms such as thunderstorms, tornadoes and hailstorms, straight-line winds and flooding that could occur with these storms.

Source: Aon.

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Top 10 Costliest World Natural Disasters By Insured Losses, 1900-2021 (1)

(2021 US$ billions)

Rank Date Country/region Event Insured loss (2)
1 Aug. 2005 U.S. Hurricane Katrina $90
2 Mar. 11, 2011 Japan 2011 Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami 42
3 Sep. 2017 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Irma 37
4 Aug.-Sep. 2021 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Ida 36
5 Oct. 2012 U.S. Hurricane Sandy 35
6 Aug. 2017 U.S. Hurricane Harvey 33
7 Sep. 2017 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Maria 33
8 Aug. 1992 U.S., Bahamas Hurricane Andrew 31
9 Jan. 17, 1994 U.S. Northridge Earthquake 28
10 Sep. 2008 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Ike 23

(1) Natural disasters that cause at least US$25 million in insured losses; or 10 deaths; or 50 people injured; or 2,000 filed claims or homes and structures damaged. Losses for hurricanes in the United States include losses for the National Flood Insurance Program. As of January 2022.
(2) Adjusted for inflation by Aon using the U.S. Consumer Price Index.

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: Aon.

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Top 10 Deadliest World Natural Catastrophes, 2021 (1)

 

Rank Date Country Event Deaths
1 Aug. 14 Haiti Earthquake 2,248
2 Jun. 1-Oct. 31 India Seasonal floods 1,282
3 Jun. 26-Jun. 30 Western North America Heatwave 1,029
4 Jun. 1-Sep. 30 China Seasonal floods 545
5 Dec. 16-18 Phillipines, Vietnam Typhoon Rai 410
6 Apr. 3-12 Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Australia Cyclone Seroja 276
7 Feb. 12-20 United States Polar Vortex Event 235
8 July. 12-18 Western and Central Europe Flooding 227
9 Oct. 25-Nov. 30 India, Sri Lanka Flooding 217
10 Feb. 7-8 India Flooding 205
All other events       ~4,000
Total       ~10,500

(1) Natural disasters that cause at least 10 deaths. As of January 2022.
(2) Includes severe convective storms such as thunderstorms, tornadoes and hailstorms, straight-line winds and flooding that could occur with these storms.

~ =Approximately.

Source: Aon.

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Top 10 Deadliest World Natural Catastrophes, 1950-2021 (1)

 

Rank Date Country/region Event Deaths
1 Nov. 12, 1970 Bangladesh Cyclone Bhola  300,000
2 Jul. 27, 1976 China Tangshan earthquake 242,769
3 Jul. 30, 1975 Taiwan, China Super Typhoon Nina 230,000
4 Dec. 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Basin Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami 227,898
5 Jan. 12, 2010 Haiti Port-au-Prince earthquake 160,000
6 Apr. 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone Gorky 139,000
7 May 2008 Myanmar Cyclone Nargis 138,366
8 Aug. 1971 Vietnam Vietnam floods 100,000
9 Oct. 8, 2005 Pakistan Kashmir earthquake 88,000
10 May 12, 2008 China Sichuan earthquake 87,652

(1) Natural disasters that cause at least 10 deaths. Does not include drought or heatwave events. As of January 2022.

Source: Aon.

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Top 10 Costliest Global Tropical Cyclones by Insured Losses, 1900-2021 (1)

(2021 US$ billions)

        Insured loss
Rank Date Country/region Event Dollars when
occurred
In 2021
dollars (2)
1 Aug. 2005 U.S. Hurricane Katrina $65 $90
2 Sep. 2017 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Irma 33 37
3 Aug. 2021 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Ida 36 36
4 Oct. 2012 U.S., Caribbean, Canada Hurricane Sandy 30 35
5 Aug. 2017 U.S. Hurricane Harvey 30 33
6 Sep. 2017 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Maria 30 33
7 Aug. 1992 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Andrew 16 31
8 Sep. 2008 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Ike 18 23
9 Oct. 2005 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Wilma 13 17
10 Sep. 2004 U.S., Caribbean Hurricane Ivan 11 15

(1) Includes losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs. Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. As of January 2022.
(2) Adjusted for inflation by Aon using the U.S. consumer price index.

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: Aon.

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Top 10 Costliest Global Severe Convective Storms by Insured Losses, 1900-2021 (1)

(2021 US$ billions)

        Insured loss
Rank Date Country/region Event Dollars when
occurred
In 2021
dollars (2)
1 Aug. 2020 U.S. Severe convective storm  (includes Midwest Derecho) $9.2 $9.6
2 Apr. 2011 U.S. 2011 Super Outbreak 7.3 8.8
3 May 2011 U.S. Joplin Tornado/Severe convective storm 6.9 8.3
4 May 2003 U.S. Severe convective storm 3.2 4.7
5 Jul. 2013 Europe Storm Andreas 3.8 4.4
6 Dec. 2021 U.S. Severe convective storm 4.0 4.0
7 May 2019 U.S. Severe convective storm 3.7 3.9
8 Apr. 2016 U.S. San Antonio Hailstorm 3.2 3.6
9 Jun. 2014 Europe Storm Ela 3.1 3.6
10 Jun. 2021 Europe June 17-25 Outbreak 3.5 3.5

(1) Includes severe convective storms such as thunderstorms, tornadoes and hailstorms, straight-line winds and flooding that could occur with these storms. Includes losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs. Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. As of January 2022.
(2) Adjusted for inflation by Aon using the U.S. consumer price index.

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: Aon.

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Top 10 Costliest Global Wildfires by Insured Losses, 1900-2021 (1)

(2021 US$ billions)

        Insured loss
Rank Date Country Event Dollars when
occurred
In 2021 dollars (2)
1 Nov. 2018 U.S. Camp Fire $10.0 $10.8
2 Oct. 2017 U.S. Tubbs Fire 8.7 9.6
3 Nov.2018 U.S. Woolsey Fire 4.2 4.5
4 Oct. 1991 U.S. Oakland (Tunnel) Fire 1.7 3.4
5 Oct. 2017 U.S. Atlas Fire 3.0 3.3
6 May 2016 Canada Horse Creek Fire 2.9 3.2
7 Sep.-Oct. 2020 U.S. Glass Fire 3.0 3.1
8 Aug.-Sep. 2020 U.S. CZU Lightning Complex Fire 2.5 2.6
9 Dec. 2017 U.S. Thomas Fire 2.2 2.5
10 Aug.-Sep. 2020 U.S. LNU Complex Fire 2.2 2.3

(1) Individual wildfires. Includes losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs. Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. As of January 2022.
(2) Adjusted for inflation by Aon using the U.S. consumer price index.

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: Aon.

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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.

Selected Examples of Historic Nuclear Events, as Classified by the INES Scale (1)

 

Level INES description Example Location Year
1 Anomaly Fast stop of the main circulation pumps
and simultaneous loss of their fly wheel
systems during reactor scram
Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant,  Finland 2008
    Exposure of two workers in the nuclear power plant beyond the dose constraints Rajasthan Nuclear Power Plant, India 2012
2 Incident Reactor trip due to high pressure in the reactor pressure vessel Laguna Verde Nuclear
Power Plant, Mexico
2011
    Overexposure of a practitioner in interventional radiology exceeding the annual limit Paris, France 2013
3 Serious incident Release of iodine 131 into the environment from the radioelements production facility Fleurus, Belgium 2008
    Severe overexposure of a radiographer Lima, Peru 2012
4 Accident with local consequences Radioactive material in scrap metal facility resulted in acute exposure of scrap dealer New Delhi, India 2010
    Overexposure of four workers at an irradiation facility Stamboliysky, Bulgaria 2011
5 Accident with wider consequences Severe damage to the reactor core Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant, USA 1979
    Four people died after being overexposed from an abandoned and ruptured high activity source Goiania, Brazil  1987
6 Serious accident Significant release of radioactive material to the environment after the explosion of a high activity waste tank Kyshtym, Russian Federation 1957
7 Major accident Significant release of radioactive material to the environment resulting in widespread health and environmental effects  Chernobyl, Ukraine 1986
    Significant release of radioactive material to the environment resulting in widespread environmental effects Fukushima, Japan 2011

(1) International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.

Source: International Atomic Energy Agency. INES Flyer.

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Insurance Catastrophe Loss Review: Oil Spills: View PowerPoint Presentation slides.

Resources

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Catastrophes
Facts + Statistics: Wildfires
Catastrophes
Facts + Statistics: Earthquakes and tsunamis
Catastrophes | Homeowners
Facts + Statistics: Flood insurance
Catastrophes
Facts + Statistics: Hurricanes
Catastrophes
Facts + Statistics: Tornadoes and thunderstorms