Insurers face US$4.5bn+ bill from costliest severe storm period on record in Europe

Western and Central Europe experienced a significant and prolonged stretch of severe weather last month, landing insurers with a bill of US$4.5bn bill, according to the latest Aon Catastrophe Report. The storms between 17-25 June primarily affected the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria, with the deadliest component of the outbreak being a powerful F4 tornado that left devastating impacts in the Czech region of South Moravia.

Six people were killed by the twister, the strongest in the country’s modern record. Widespread hail, wind and flood damage also affected many other parts of Europe, with the total insured impact anticipated to exceed US$3.4bn and overall losses reaching even higher.

Severe weather returned to Central Europe on 28-30 June. Large hail was the predominant driver of damage in central Switzerland and Austria, while many parts of Germany experienced flooding. Total aggregated insurance impacts from the SCS outbreaks between 17 and 30 June constitute the costliest stretch of severe weather in European history and fifth costliest globally, with combined losses preliminarily estimated by the national insurance sectors at US$4.5bn, surpassing the previous European record of US$4.3bn set by storm Andreas in 2013. Insurers in Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic recorded their costliest stretches of severe weather on record, while Germany experienced the second costliest.

Aon’s monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report also detailed how a prolonged period of historic heat gripped the US Pacific Northwest and Canada in late June, resulting in more than 630 fatalities with the total likely to rise. Numerous daily, monthly, and all-time maximum temperature records were set – including many records that were broken in consecutive days, with the state of Washington in the US equalling the state-wide heat record with a reading of 118°F (47.8°C). Canada set a new all-time record temperature record on 29 June – 121°F (49.6°C) at Lytton, British Columbia. The heat resulted in nearly 200 wildfires in Canada, record energy demands, and large agricultural losses.

Michal Lörinc, senior catastrophe analyst for Aon’s Impact Forecasting team, said: “While the United States generates most headlines given the frequency and aggregated high financial costs associated with severe thunderstorm outbreaks, other parts of the world are also prone to such events. The extended stretch of severe weather in the second half of June across Western and Central Europe featured very large hail, flash floods, and one of the most intense tornadoes recorded in the recent European record. Multi-billion-dollar insured thunderstorm outbreaks are not regularly common in Europe, but they can and do happen.”

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