The explosions at China’s Tianjin port in August may have been the most costly insured catastrophe loss event in 2015, according to Swiss Re’s estimates. But five other events also carried enormous financial impact.
Beyond that $2 billion-plus loss event, the U.S. winter storm in February, thunderstorms and flooding in Texas and other parts of the U.S., California wildfires and a late winter storm in Europe also added sizable catastrophe costs to insurers.
Here’s a rundown of the top insured catastrophe loss events, as per Swiss Re’s preliminary sigma estimates of property and business interruption losses:
Tianjin Explosions. The August 12 event caused more than $2 billion in losses. China’s worst industrial disaster caused more than 173 deaths. Zurich Insurance abandoned its proposed bid for Britain’s RSA Insurance Group Plc, in part, because of $275 million in losses booked at its general insurance business due to Tianjin. Beyond Zurich, firms including China Reinsurance Group Corp. and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway also sustained major losses due to Tianjin.
U.S. February Winter Storms. The February weather event caused more than $2.1 billion in insured losses, and $2.7 billion in total losses. In an already tough winter with record cold temperatures, a number of major snow storms that month brought record snowfall to New England, and the biggest snowfall ever to Boston. Munich Re noted that winter insured losses, mainly stemming from frozen pipes bursting and resulting water damage, did not match the 2013/2014 winter season.
Texas Thunderstorms and Floods. This late-May catastrophic weather event in the U.S. generated approximately $1.3 billion in insured losses and 2 billion in total losses. Storms and record rainfall killed 28 people, Aon Plc. said, and an estimated 10,000 vehicles were damaged.
More Thunderstorms. U.S. Severe thunderstorms in April in a number of states – events that generated hail, wind tornadoes and flash flooding – led to $1.2 billion in insured losses and $1.6 billion in economic losses.
Valley Fire. This California wildfire caused $1 billion in insured losses and $1.6 billion in total losses as of Early September. Along with the Butte fire, more than 1,000 structures were destroyed as of mid-September. At the time, Munich Re America estimated that the California wildfire situation could lead to historic levels of damage.
Cyclone Niklas. When Niklas hit in Europe at the end of March, the catastrophic weather event lead to $1 billion in insured losses and $1.4 billion in total losses. As AIR Worldwide noted at the time, Germany suffered most of the insured losses, which included wind damage to onshore residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural properties as well as automobiles. But 10 other countries in Europe also dealt with storm-related damage.
Source: Swiss Re