A Record Decade for Natural Catastrophe Losses

Hilary Tuttle

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March 2, 2020

Last year saw below-average natural catastrophe losses, but marked the close of a record-breaking decade of damages, according to Aon’s Weather, Climate and Catastrophe Insight: 2019 Annual Report. The global economic toll from 2010 to 2019 was $2.98 trillion—a $1.19 trillion increase from the previous decade. Asia-Pacific suffered 44% of the damage, while the United States experienced 55% of insured losses. In 2019, economic losses topped $232 billion and insured losses totaled $71 billion. Typhoons Hagibis and Faxai in Japan were the costliest events for insurers at a combined $15 billion, while inland flooding was the top individual peril, exacting an $82 billion economic toll, driven largely by floods in the U.S. Midwest.

“Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the last decade of natural disasters was the emergence of previously considered ‘secondary’ perils—such as wildfire, flood and drought—becoming much more costly and impactful,” said Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist at Aon’s impact forecasting team. “As the public and private sectors balance an understanding of the science with smart business solutions, this will lead to new advances that lower the physical risk and improve overall awareness.”

Hilary Tuttle is senior editor of Risk Management.