The first six months of 2015 mark the quietest first half for global natural disaster losses since 2006, according to a new report from Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting.
The report, “Global Catastrophe Recap: First Half of 2015,” evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide in the first six months of the year.
Insured cat losses for first-half 2015 were $15 billion, down 45 percent from the $27 billion sustained in 2014 and 47 percent below the 10-year average of $28 billion. Total economic losses were $46 billion, down from $58 billion in 2014’s first half and 58 percent below the 10-year average of $107 billion.
The costliest natural disaster during the first half of 2015 was the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that devastated Nepal on April 25, killing almost 10,000 people in Nepal and the neighboring countries of India, Bangladesh and China. Total damage and reconstruction costs throughout the impacted areas were estimated to be as high as $10 billion, though only a small fraction of those losses (roughly 2 percent) was covered by insurance.
For insurers, first-half 2015’s most expensive event occurred in the United States, where an extended stretch of heavy snowfall and bitter cold impacted as many as 20 states during the month of February and cost insurers at least $1.8 billion.
The United States suffered the majority (73 percent) of insured losses due to an active winter season combined with severe thunderstorms in April, May and June that caused hail, wind, tornadoes and flash flooding. An ongoing drought across the West is estimated to have cost insurers $1.0 billion so far.
“Looking ahead to the rest of 2015, the continued strengthening of what could be the strongest El Niño in nearly two decades is poised to have far-reaching impacts around the globe,” said Steve Bowen, associate director and meteorologist with the Impact Forecasting team. “How that translates to disaster losses remains to be seen, but [it’s] something to keep a close eye on in the coming months.”