by Phil Gusman, PropertyCasualty360.com
First-half 2014 losses from natural catastrophes were well below the 10-year average for this
time period, as were fatalities from such events, research from Munich Re shows.
Global nat-cat losses totaled $42 billion for the first six months of 2014, while insured losses
were $17 billion, compared to the 10-year averages of $95 billion economic and $25 billion insured.
Fatalities as a result of nat cats totaled 2,700, far below the 10-year average of 53,000 for first-half
deaths, notes a summary of the Munich Re figures written by Insurance Information Institute
President Robert Hartwig. Hartwig says the U.S. accounted for the greatest percentage of economic
losses at 35%. Europe and Asia accounted for 30% each.
In the U.S., 11 winter storm and cold wave events caused the most fatalities (84), while 33
severe thunderstorm events caused the most economic and insured losses ($9.1 billion and $6.7 billion
The severe winter storm activity resulted from “a persistent ‘Omega Block’ pattern, combined
with a weakened Polar Vortex” that caused frozen precipitation events as far south as the Florida
panhandle during the winter months, Munich Re says.
As for the thunderstorm events, one outbreak from April 28-May 1 spawned 80 tornadoes and
caused an estimated $1.1 billion in insured losses. Another outbreak from May 18-May 23 stretched
from Montana to New York, causing $1.7 billion in insured losses. Golf-ball-sized hail fell in Chicago
and Denver and baseball-sized hail hit parts of Indiana and Ohio. Wind gusts in excess of hurricane
force caused downed trees and power lines further east across the mid-Atlantic.
Out west, a heat wave and strong Santa Ana winds helped cause eight wildfires in San Diego
County in May, burning over 29,000 acres and destroying 60 properties. The fires caused one death
and $770 million in economic losses.
Still, Munich Re notes that, globally and including the U.S., the biggest nat-cat loss events did
not exceed more than a few billion dollars.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phil Gusman, PropertyCasualty360.com
Phil Gusman is Managing Editor of PropertyCasualty360.com. Prior to joining National Underwriter
in 2008, he was Editor of Insurance Advocate. Gusman has also served as Associate Editor of
Crackdown!, an insurance fraud publication, and Assistant Editor of Empire State Report, which
covers New York politics. He graduated in 2002 from