Natural Disaster-Related Losses Reach 13-Year Low in H1: Munich Re

July 11, 2018 by Alexander Huebner and Caroline Copley

Overall losses from storms, flooding and earthquakes almost halved in the first six months of 2018 to $33 billion, the lowest figure in 13 years, reinsurer Munich Re said on Wednesday.

Insurers paid out $17 billion for natural disaster claims, down from $25.5 billion a year earlier but in line with the 30-year average of $17.5 billion, the reinsurer said.

“Following a period of extreme disasters with record losses, it is nice to be able to record a phase with low losses,” Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek said.

The reinsurer cautioned, however, that the highest losses are usually caused in the second half of the year. Last year, a series of major hurricanes pushed up overall losses to $340 billion.

Munich Re recorded 430 natural disasters in the first half, up from 380 a year earlier and the long-term average of 250. Some 3,000 people lost their lives in natural disasters, down from 5,540 in the year-earlier period.

The single costliest catastrophe was storm Friederike which swept across Britain, northern France, Benelux and Germany in mid-January, causing $2.7 billion in overall losses of which $2.1 bln was insured.

Slow-moving thunderstorms and flash flooding in May and early June in parts of central Europe caused overall losses of 1.6 billion euros ($1.9 billion) of which 900 million was insured.

Reinsurers act as a financial backstop to insurance companies, paying a chunk of the big claims for storms or earthquakes in exchange for part of the premium.

Lower claims payouts boost insurance industry profit but have a downside for reinsurers, whose insurance company clients often then demand lower prices for reinsurers’ backing.

The review gave no claims figures for Munich Re itself. The reinsurer is due to report second-quarter results on Aug. 8. ($1 = 0.8520 euros)