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

Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters resulted in $54 billion in global insured losses in 2016, the highest since 2012, according to Swiss Re. Insured losses were $38 billion in 2015. In 2016 insured losses were in line with the inflation-adjusted previous 10-year average of $53 billion. The earthquakes in Japan in April were the largest insured-loss event of the year, resulting in $4.9 billion in insured losses. There were 327 disaster events in 2016, of which 191 were natural disasters, accounting for $46 billion in insured losses. By region, North America accounted for the lion’s share of insured losses in 2016, with about $30 billion and almost 60 percent of world insured losses. Most of those losses resulted from hurricanes—especially Hurricane Matthew incurring $4 billion in insured losses—as well as hailstorms, thunderstorms, and severe floods. In Canada, wildfires in May through July caused the highest ever recorded losses, at $2.8 billion. In terms of human loss, Hurricane Matthew was the worst disaster, claiming 734 victims in the United States and the Caribbean. In the United States, severe storms and flooding in Louisiana in August was the second worst catastrophe, after Hurricane Matthew, causing $3.1 billion in insured losses.

Global Catastrophes, 2016

 

  Number of incidents Deaths Insured loss ($ millions)
Storms 82 1,640 $20,344
Floods 65 3,336 5,694
Drought, bush fires, heat waves 16 340 4,664
Earthquakes 16 1,386 9,046
Hail 6 0 6,236
Cold, frost 5 158 0
Other natural catastrophes 1 24 0
Total natural catastrophes 191 6,884 $45,944
Man-made disasters 136 4,014 $7,797
All catatrophes (1) 327 10,864 $53,516

(1) Based on events classified by Swiss Re as a catastrophe. The threshold is $19.9 million in insured losses for maritime disasters, $39.8 million for aviation disasters and $49.5 million for other losses or $99.0 million in total economic losses; or at least 20 dead or missing, 50 injured or 2,000 made homeless.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, 2/2017.

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Top 10 Deadliest World Catastrophes, 2016

Rank Date Country/region Event Victims (1)
1 Sep. 28 U.S. and the Caribbean  Hurricane Matthew  734
2 Apr. 16 Ecuador  Earthquake Mw 7.8  673
3 Aug. 29 North Korea  Remnants of Typhoon Lionrock trigger floods along Tumen River  538
4 Jun. 3 Greece, Mediterranean Sea  Boat carrying migrants capsizes  358
5 Apr. 13 India  Heat waves  300
6 Aug. 24 Italy  Earthquake Mw 6.2  299
7 Jun. 30 China  Severe floods along Yangtze River  289
8 Jul. 18 China  Severe floods  289
9 Nov. 3 Libyan Arab Jamahiriya  Boat carrying migrants capsizes  240
10 Jul. 15 India  Monsoon floods  228

(1) Dead and missing.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, No. 2/2017.

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Top 20 Costliest Insurance Losses, 2016 (1)

(US$ millions)

Rank Date Country Event Insured loss in U.S. dollars
1 Apr. 14 Japan    Earthquakes   $4,887
2 Oct. 6 U.S. and the Caribbean    Hurricane Matthew   4,000
3 Aug. 11 U.S.  Severe storms and flooding, LA  3,102
4 Apr. 10 U.S.  Severe hailstorm in San Antonio, TX   2,995
5 May 27 Germany, France    Storms/floods (low-pressure systems Elvira and Friederike)   2,886
6 May 2 Canada    Fort McMurray wildfires   2,782
7 Nov. 14 New Zealand    Earthquake Mw 7.8   1,700-2,400
8 Mar. 23 U.S.  North Texas hailstorm, thunderstorms   1,689
9 Feb. 28 Ghana    Turret failure at a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel   (2)
10 Apr. 29 U.S.  Thunderstorms, large hail, tornadoes, flash floods   1,187
11 Jul. 28 U.S.  Thunderstorms, severe hail damage in CO, hailstorm in WY  1,135
12 Apr. 16 U.S.  Flash flood, river flood in Houston region from torrential rains, TX 1,037
13 Mar. 17 U.S.  Thunderstorms, large hail in Forth Worth and Arlington, TX   920
14 Nov. 28 U.S.  Chimney Tops 2 Fire spreads to forest areas in dry conditions, TN 919
15 May 21 U.S.  Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail   874
16 May 7 U.S.  Thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes   764
17 May 11 U.S.  Thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes   666
18 Apr. 25 U.S.  Thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes   639
19 Feb. 22 U.S., Canada    Thunderstorms, 50 tornadoes, hail   637
20 Mar. 31 France    Steam generator falls and causes damage to nuclear power plant   (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. 2/2017; 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, 2007-2016 (1)

(2016 $ millions)

Year Weather-related
natural catastrophes
Man-made Earthquakes Total
2007 $27,348 $6,682 $649 $34,679
2008 48,864 9,351 470 58,685
2009 23,945 4,394 681 29,020
2010 33,320 5,253 14,862 53,435
2011 70,274 6,856 57,220 134,350
2012 66,886 6,146 1,788 74,819
2013 36,852 7,968 46 44,866
2014 29,083 7,136 317 36,537
2015 27,550 9,612 517 37,678
2016 36,898 7,797 9,046 53,741

(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 2016 dollars by Swiss Re.

Source: Swiss Re.

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Top 10 Costliest World Insurance Losses, 1970-2016 (1)

(2016 $ millions)

Rank Date Country Event Insured loss
1 Aug. 25, 2005 U.S., Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Katrina, storm surge, damage to oil rigs $80,699
2 Mar. 11, 2011 Japan Earthquake (Mw 9.0) triggers tsunami 37,344
3 Oct. 24, 2012 U.S., Caribbean, Canada Hurricane Sandy, storm surge 30,141
4 Aug. 23, 1992 U.S., Bahamas Hurricane Andrew, floods 27,368
5 Sep. 11, 2001 U.S. Terror attacks on WTC, Pentagon and other buildings 25,456
6 Jan. 17, 1994 U.S. Northridge earthquake (Mw 6.7) 24,773
7 Sep. 6, 2008 U.S., Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Hurricane Ike, floods, damage to oil rigs 22,577
8 Feb. 22, 2011 New Zealand Earthquake (Mw 6.1), aftershocks 17,072
9 Sep. 2, 2004 U.S., Caribbean, Venezuela Hurricane Ivan, damage to oil rigs 16,417
10 Jul. 27, 2011 Thailand Heavy monsoon rains, extreme flooding  16,005

(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 2016 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. 2/2017.

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Top 10 Deadliest World Catastrophes, 1970-2016

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  138,300
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 (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. 2/2017.

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Man-made disasters

In 2016, 327 catastrophic events occurred, including 191 natural catastrophes and 136 man-made disasters, according to Swiss Re. Natural catastrophes caused $45.9 billion in insured losses in 2016, while man-made disasters resulted in additional losses of $7.8 billion. The deadliest man-made disaster in 2016 involved a boat carrying migrants that sank off the coast of Crete in June, killing 358 people. In terms of insured losses, major fires and explosions were responsible for $4.6 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 $25.5 billion in insured losses (in 2016 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 2016

  Number of incidents Deaths Insured loss ($ millions)
All man-made disasters (1) 136 4,014 $7,797
       
Major fires, explosions 47 766 $4,643
Industry, warehouses 17 84 2,027
Oil, gas 13 136 1,921
Other buildings 11 387 0
Other fires, explosions 5 159 617
Department stores 1 0 78
Maritime disasters  36 1,596 $2,463
Passenger ships 19 1,530 0
Drilling platforms 9 0 1,944
Tankers 5 66 98
Other maritime accidents 3 0 420
Aviation disasters 11 384 $248
Crashes 7 383 117
Space 2 0 41
Damage on ground  2 1 90
Rail disasters (includes cableways) 11 318 $87
Mining accidents 8 166 $184
Collapse of buildings, bridges 3 100 $0
Miscellaneous 20 684 $173
Terrorism 15 601 173
Social unrest 1 0 0
Other miscellaneous losses 4 83 0

(1) Based on events classified by Swiss Re as a catastrophe. The threshold is $19.9 million in insured losses for maritime disasters, $39.8 million for aviation disasters and $49.5 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, 2/2017.

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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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