Insurance Handbook

2019 natural catastrophes

Aon defines a catastrophe as a natural event that causes $25 million or more in insured property losses, or 10 deaths; or 50 people injured; or 2,000 filed claims or homes and structures damaged. Aon’s natural catastrophe estimates include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and include losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program. They are subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. Natural catastrophe losses in the United States rose to an historic high in 2017 of $137 billion in 2020 dollars, the year of Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma and costly California wildfires. Natural catastrophe losses fell 55 percent in 2018 and 36 percent in 2019, when they totaled $39.6 billion in 2020 dollars.

Natural Catastrophe Losses In The United States, 2019 (1)

($ millions)

Event Number of events (2) Fatalities Overall losses Insured losses (3)
Severe thunderstorm 49 70 $27,000 $20,300
Winter storms and cold waves 16 73 7,400 2,100
Tropical cyclone 5 16 3,900 1,900
Wildfire, heat waves, and drought 9 11 1,300 830
Flood, flash flood 9 7 10100 200
Earthquake and geopyhsical 2 3 180 50
Total 90 180 $49,900 $25,500

(1) As of May 2020.
(2) Events that have caused at least one fatality or losses of $3 million or more.
(3) Sourced from Property Claim Services based on property losses including, if applicable, agricultural, offshore, marine, aviation and National Flood Insurance Progam losses; may differ from data shown elsewhere.

Source: © 2020 Munich Re, NatCatSERVICE, Property Claim Services®, a unit of ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® business.

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Natural Catastrophes By Quarter, 2019 (1)

($ millions)

Quarter Estimated insured losses
1 $9,210
2 13,760
3 10,230
4 5,930
Full year $39,130

(1) Natural disasters that cause at least $25 million in insured losses; or 10 deaths; or 50 people injured; or 2,000 filed claims or homes and structures damaged. Includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Includes losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program. Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. As of November 25, 2020.

Source: Aon.

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Estimated Insured Property Losses, U.S. Natural Catastrophes, 2010-2019 (1)

($ billions)

Year In dollars when occurred In 2020 dollars (2)
2010 $19.2 $22.7
2011 48.4 55.7
2012 63.5 71.5
2013 24.1 26.8
2014 23.2 25.3
2015 22.9 25.0
2016 31.6 34.1
2017 130.8 137.4
2018 60.4 62.0
2019 39.2 39.6

(1) Natural disasters that cause at least $25 million in insured losses; or 10 deaths; or 50 people injured; or 2,000 filed claims or homes and structures damaged. Includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Includes losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program. Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. As of November 25, 2020.
(2) Adjusted for inflation by Aon using the U.S. Consumer Price Index.

Source: Aon.

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Top 10 Costliest Natural Catastrophes, United States (1)

($ millions)

      Estimated insured property loss
Rank Year Peril Dollars when occurred In 2020 dollars (2)
1 2005 Hurricane Katrina $65,000 $85,570
2 2012 Hurricane Sandy 30,000 33,530
3 2017 Hurricane Harvey 30,000 31,590
4 2017 Hurricane Irma 29,900 31,320
5 2017 Hurricane Maria 29,670 31,100
6 1992 Hurricane Andrew 16,000 29,360
7 1994 Northridge Earthquake 15,300 27,060
8 2008 Hurricane Ike 18,200 21,510
9 2012 Drought loss 14,390 16,420
10 2005 Hurricane Wilma 10,670 13,840

(1) Natural disasters that cause at least $25 million in insured losses; or 10 deaths; or 50 people injured; or 2,000 filed claims or homes and structures damaged. Includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Includes losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program. Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. As of November 25, 2020.
(2) Adjusted for inflation by Aon using the U.S. Consumer Price Index.

Source: Aon.

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Below are charts from Munich Re, which include flood insurance losses in its calculations. The reinsurer estimated insured natural catastrophe losses in the United States for 2018 at $52 billion.

Loss Events in the U.S., 1980-2018

(Number of relevant events by peril)

Source: © 2019 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of March 2019. 

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Loss Events in the U.S., 1980-2018

(Overall and insured losses)

Source: © 2019 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of March 2019. 

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Loss Events in the U.S., 1980-2018

(Overall losses: nominal, inflation adjusted, and normalized)

Source: © 2019 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of March 2019. 

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Convective Storm Events* in the U.S., 1980-2018

(Overall and insured losses)

Source: © 2019 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of March 2019. 

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Convective Storm Events* in the U.S., 1980-2018

(Overall losses: nominal, inflation adjusted, and normalized)

Source: © 2019 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of March 2019. 

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Tropical Storms and Hurricanes in the U.S., 1980-2018

(Insured property losses per state)

Source: © 2019 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of March 2019.

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Tropical Storms and Hurricanes in the U.S., 1980-2018

(Overall losses: nominal, inflation adjusted, and normalized)

Source: © 2019 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of March 2019.

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U.S., total catastrophes

The Property Claim Services (PCS) division of Verisk Analytics defines a catastrophe as an event that causes $25 million or more in insured property losses and affects a significant number of property/casualty policyholders and insurers. The estimates in the following chart represent anticipated insured losses from catastrophes on an industrywide basis, reflecting the total net insurance payment for personal and commercial property lines of insurance covering fixed property, vehicles, boats, related-property items, business interruption and additional living expenses.

Estimated Insured Property Losses, U.S. Natural Catastrophes, 2010-2019 (1)

($ billions)

Year In dollars when occurred In 2020 dollars (2)
2010 $19.2 $22.7
2011 48.4 55.7
2012 63.5 71.5
2013 24.1 26.8
2014 23.2 25.3
2015 22.9 25.0
2016 31.6 34.1
2017 130.8 137.4
2018 60.4 62.0
2019 39.2 39.6

(1) Natural disasters that cause at least $25 million in insured losses; or 10 deaths; or 50 people injured; or 2,000 filed claims or homes and structures damaged. Includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Includes losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program. Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. As of November 25, 2020.
(2) Adjusted for inflation by Aon using the U.S. Consumer Price Index.

Source: Aon.

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The chart below shows insured losses for the top 10 U.S. catastrophes in dollars when they occurred and in 2019 dollars, adjusted for inflation. Insured losses for the catastrophic hurricanes of 2017—Maria, Irma and Harvey—are represented as a range. This is because factors such as the severity of the losses and the fact that the storms happened in rapid succession—which strained resources in the claim settlement process—have hindered the development of final estimates. The amount of insured losses for Irma in Florida are still to be determined; claims have been reopened, and business interruption losses for all three storms are still being settled. The Insurance Information Institute has developed the ranges after studying estimates from catastrophe modelers and other organizations. Losses for one event in 2018—Hurricane Michael—are included in the chart with losses represented by a range as claims remain open.

Top 10 Costliest Natural Catastrophes, United States (1)

($ millions)

      Estimated insured property loss
Rank Year Peril Dollars when occurred In 2020 dollars (2)
1 2005 Hurricane Katrina $65,000 $85,570
2 2012 Hurricane Sandy 30,000 33,530
3 2017 Hurricane Harvey 30,000 31,590
4 2017 Hurricane Irma 29,900 31,320
5 2017 Hurricane Maria 29,670 31,100
6 1992 Hurricane Andrew 16,000 29,360
7 1994 Northridge Earthquake 15,300 27,060
8 2008 Hurricane Ike 18,200 21,510
9 2012 Drought loss 14,390 16,420
10 2005 Hurricane Wilma 10,670 13,840

(1) Natural disasters that cause at least $25 million in insured losses; or 10 deaths; or 50 people injured; or 2,000 filed claims or homes and structures damaged. Includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Includes losses sustained by private insurers and government-sponsored programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program. Subject to change as loss estimates are further developed. As of November 25, 2020.
(2) Adjusted for inflation by Aon using the U.S. Consumer Price Index.

Source: Aon.

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2019 catastrophes

  • Insured losses by state were highest in Texas in 2019, with $7.2 billion in losses from 583,050 claims.
  • Illinois ranked second with $1.7 billion in insured losses and 168,100 claims.

Top 10 States By Insured Catastrophe Losses, 2019 (1)

($ millions)

Rank State Estimated insured loss Number of claims
1 Texas $7,236.4 583,050
2 Illinois 1,707.2 168,100
3 Colorado 1,366.9 127,450
4 Ohio 1,345.1 106,950
5 California 1,321.7 71,450
6 Minnesota 1,202.3 115,350
7 Pennsylvania 1,107.5 149,150
8 Nebraska 864.1 71,950
9 Oklahoma 597.8 57,100
10 Montana 593.5 36,300

(1) Includes catastrophes causing insured property losses of at least $25 million in 1997 dollars and affecting a significant number of policyholders and insurers. Excludes losses covered by the federally administered National Flood Insurance Program.

Source: The Property Claim Services® (PCS®) unit of ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® company.

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