Insured losses in 2014 totaled about $33 billion, the lowest level since 2009 and well below the 10-year average of $59 billion, according to Guy Carpenter’s annual Global Catastrophe Review.
Fifty percent of the year’s insured losses occurred in North America, the report found. In the U.S., excessive cold combined with winter storms in January and February to cause insured losses of $2.3 billion. A tornado outbreak in late April brought EF-3 and EF-4 tornadoes to Mississippi and Arkansas, causing $1.1 billion in insured losses. In May, storms in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois brought hailstones as big as four inches in diameter and caused insured losses of $2.9 billion.
The Atlantic hurricane season was relatively quiet, but the East Pacific had its most active year since 1992, according to the report, with 16 hurricanes and nine major hurricanes. Hurricane Odile made landfall in the Baja Peninsula of Mexico in September, causing severe damage to both structures and infrastructure. Insured loss estimates for the category 3 hurricane were around $1.6 billion.
Winter storms brought flooding and strong winds in Western Europe, causing significant coastal erosion in France, Spain and the United Kingdom, which also suffered widespread inland flooding. Estimated insured losses for the U.K. alone were around $1.8 billion. In June, hail and windstorm Ela hit Germany, France, Belgium and Austria, with reports of hailstones as big as 4.7 inches. Estimated insured losses for the event were $2.8 billion.
The most costly event for Asia in 2014 resulted from two snowstorms in February that brought hundreds of thousands of power outages and disrupted businesses, resulting in $3.1 billion in insured losses. July’s Typhoon Rammasun, which made landfall in Southeast China, was the strongest typhoon to hit the region since 1973. The category 4 storm brought heavy rainfall, flooding and wind to China, Vietnam and the Philippines, with estimated insured losses of $250 million. September brought catastrophic flooding to the India-Pakistan border caused by excessive rainfall (up to 15.7 inches in some areas), with insured losses estimated to be $645 million. In October, Cyclone Hudhud hit India with heavy rainfall, flooding and wind that resulted in an estimated $530 million in insured losses.
In Australia, a supercell thunderstorm in November produced baseball-sized hail, strong winds and heavy rainfall, causing estimated insured losses of $820 million.