Willis Re: Nat cat losses reach US$39.5bn in 2016

Written by Deborah Ritchie

Last year saw insured loss estimates from major natural catastrophes reach US$39.5 billion -- the highest since the annual market losses of US$60bn in 2012, according to figures from Willis Re.

The largest single insured loss came from the Kumamoto earthquake in Japan in April 2016 with losses exceeding US$4.8bn. Other notable events in 2016 included Canada’s Fort McMurray wildfire in May which caused insured losses of around US$3.5bn; Hurricane Matthew in early October resulted in the largest single insured loss in the United States at US$2.3bn; and the combined effects of Windstorms Elvira and Friedrike in Europe in the summer produced losses of approximately US$2.48bn.

Executive director, Catastrophe Analytics at Willis Re, John Alarcon said despite natural catastrophe insured losses falling in the last five years to 2016, they are still significant. "Lower profile perils such as the wildfire around Fort McMurray have the potential to cause substantial losses. Importantly, our report also highlights that economic losses continue to be higher than insured losses and substantially so in some regions. Clearly the insurance industry has a significant role to play in helping economic recovery by supporting resilient societies and closing the protection gap between insured and total economic loss when natural catastrophes occur," he added.

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