According to Swiss Re’s preliminary sigma estimates, total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters were $113 billion in 2014, down from $135 billion in 2013. Out of the total economic losses, insurers covered $34 billion in 2014, down 24 percent from $45 billion in 2013. This year’s disaster events have claimed around 11,000 lives.

Natural catastrophes caused $106 billion of the estimated total economic losses, down from $126 billion in 2013. The report notes that the figure is “well below the average annual $188 billion loss figure of the previous 10 years. The total loss of life of 11,000 from natural catastrophe and man-made disaster events this year is down from the more than 27,000 fatalities in 2013.”

Insured losses of $29 billion were triggered by natural catastrophe events compared with $37 billion in 2013. Man-made disasters generated the additional $5 billion in insurance losses in 2014.

“This year started with extreme winter conditions in the US and Japan and, as the year drew to a close, the Northeast US was once again gripped by very low temperatures and heavy snow,” Swiss Re explained. “The storms in the US at the beginning of 2014 alone caused insured losses of $1.7 billion.

“This is above the average full-year winter storm loss number of $1.1 billion of the previous 10 years. In mid-May, a spate of strong storms with large hail stones hit many parts of the US over a five-day period, resulting in insured losses of $2.9 billion, the highest of the year.

“The North Atlantic hurricane season was relatively mild again in 2014. No major hurricane made landfall in the US, the ninth year running that this has happened. However, Mexico was impacted by Hurricane Odile from the East Pacific in September. Strong winds and heavy rains resulted in insured losses of $1.6 billion, as Odile hit the Cabo San Lucas and other tourist resort areas in which there are a number of hotels and where commercial insurance penetration is relatively high. This made Hurricane Odile the second most costly catastrophe event in Mexico ever after Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

“On the other side of the Pacific, the Philippines were once again hit by a typhoon at the beginning of December. Early loss estimates for Typhoon Hagupit indicate less damage than Typhoon Haiyan caused in 2013. Also, evacuation procedures based on lessons learned from the Haiyan experience have meant less loss of life than otherwise may have been.

“In Europe, a series of small loss-inducing weather events hit different countries at the beginning of the year. One major event was wind and hail storm Ela in June, which caused significant damage to properties and vehicles in parts of France, Germany and Belgium, resulting in overall insured losses of $2.7 billion. Bulgaria was also hit by hail activity in June. Other severe weather events were heavy rains and flooding in the UK, Serbia, Croatia, Italy and France at different times during the year.

“In Asia, monsoon rains in September brought extensive flooding and damage across India and Pakistan. These floods have claimed the largest number of lives of any flood event in 2014. The following month, India was hit by another extreme event, this time Cyclone Hudhud on the east coast.”

In contrast to the heavy rains in many areas, others were suffering from drought conditions. For example, some areas in China had a very dry summer, leading to severe drought conditions that affected agricultural output. The loss estimates for these events are not yet known.

The data from the study can be accessed and visualized at . This mobile enabled web-application allows users to create charts, share them via social media and export them as standard graphic files.

Source: Swiss Re