Natural disaster insured losses fall in first half of 2018: Munich Re

Rob Lenihan

7/11/2018 4:01:00 AM

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Losses from natural disasters were significantly lower in the first half of the year, Munich Reinsurance Co. said in a report released Wednesday, but individual events caused high losses in specific areas.

Insured losses for the first half of 2018 totaled about $17 billion, Munich Re said in a statement, down from $25.5 billion during the same period last year. However, this year’s total essentially matched the average of $17.5 billion for the first six months over the last 30 years.

The overall losses for the period were $33 billion, roughly half the previous year’s figure of $65 billion and just under half of the price-adjusted average for the last 30 years of $68.3 billion.

Munich Re said about 3,000 people died in natural disasters in the first half of 2018, down from 5,540 in the year-ago period.

However, Munich Re noted that the second half of the year usually brings higher losses, such as in 2017 when hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria pushed overall losses for the year to $340 billion.

The first half of the year was marked by windstorms and cold weather in Europe and North America. The most destructive event was Storm Friederike, which swept across the United Kingdom, northern France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany in mid-January.

Thousands of buildings and motor vehicles were damaged and long-distance train travel in Germany was disrupted after uprooted trees had torn down the overhead lines in many places.

Overall losses totaled $2.7 billion, of which $2.1 billion were insured, reflecting the high insurance density of windstorm coverage in Europe. Roughly two-thirds of the losses occurred in Germany, Munich Re said.

North America was hit by several widespread snowstorms, or Nor’easters, from the end of February to mid-March. The most destructive event was a blizzard in the first week of March, which caused overall losses of $2.2 billion, of which $1.6 billion was insured.

In total, Munich Re said, winter losses in Europe came to $4.8 billion, of which $3.6 billion was insured. The winter in North America caused overall losses in the first half of the year totaling $3.8 billion and insured losses of $2.7 billion.

In Guatemala, more than 100 people were killed, with many more still missing, after the volcano Fuego erupted in June.

Munich Re Board Member Torsten Jeworrek said in a statement that “looking at a short timespan may distort the true picture.”

“The most important thing is to understand the long-term developments,” he said. “That is why we must continue to make every effort to understand the background to natural disasters and provide safeguards against them in the form of intelligent prevention measures.”