While total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disaster events remain far below-average in the first half of 2015, the global insurance and reinsurance industry is covering a higher than average percentage of those losses.
That’s the key takeaway from preliminary sigma estimates of global catastrophe losses for the first half of 2015, just released by Swiss Re.
Of the $37 billion in total economic losses from disaster events in the first half of 2015, the global insurance and reinsurance industry covered nearly 45 percent, or $16.5 billion, of these losses.
This is higher than the previous 10-year average of 27 percent covered by the global re/insurance industry.
Of the overall insured losses in the first half of 2015, $12.9 billion came from natural disasters, down from nearly $20 billion in first half 2014, and again below the average first-half year loss of the previous 10 years ($25 billion).
Man-made disasters triggered an additional $3.6 billion in insured losses in the first half of 2015, sigma said.
So why did insurance and reinsurance cover a higher proportion of global catastrophe losses in the first half?
The answer lies in the location of the most costly insured natural catastrophes losses for the insurance industry in the first half of 2015–thunderstorms in the United States and winter storm losses in Europe.
These larger loss events, as well as the severe winter weather in North America, all contributed to the lower percentage of uninsured losses through the first half of the year.
Here’s the Swiss Re chart showing the dollar breakout of insured and uninsured catastrophe-related losses from 2005 through 2015:
Note: insured losses + uninsured losses= total economic losses
But, as Artemis blog reports here, sadly the lower proportion of uninsured losses is not related to any major increase in insurance penetration.
The Nepal earthquakes provide a striking example. While economic losses from the quakes are estimated at $5 billion, only around $160 million were insured.
In the words of Kurt Karl, chief economist at Swiss Re:
The tragic events in Nepal are a reminder of the utility of insurance. Insurance cover does not lessen the emotional trauma that natural catastrophes inflict, but it can help people better manage the financial fallout from disasters so they can start to rebuild their lives.”
Check out Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) facts and statistics on global catastrophes.