Insured losses from 2011 cats set to exceed $90bn
Insured losses from the extensive series of natural catastrophes throughout 2011 seem likely to exceed $90bn, even by conservative estimates.
Figures put together by The Insurance Insider from official industry forecasts and market sources suggest that total insured losses from catastrophic events with expected losses of $100mn or more total $94bn.
Almost two thirds of that figure comes from just three events - the Japanese Tohoku earthquake and tsunami ($30bn), the ongoing flooding in Thailand (up to $20bn) and the second Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand ($15bn).
The loss bill makes 2011 the second worst-ever year for cat losses (after 2005's Hurricane Katrina) and almost five times the industry average of $21bn (see chart below). More recent events include heavy flooding in southern France during November. The floods are expected to cost insurers between EUR600mn and EUR800mn, according to the French insurance federation. French state reinsurer Caisse Centrale de Réassurance estimated industry insured losses on 10 November as between EUR550mn and EUR880mn.
The US also suffered from unseasonable weather late in October, with strong north-east winds bringing record snowfall and gusting winds to areas of New England and the mid-Atlantic US.
Preliminary estimates of economic losses from the snow damage are as high as $3bn, according to Aon Benfield's October Cat Recap report, but figures on insured losses have yet to materialise.
Aside from Thailand, south-east Asia also saw persistent flooding in parts of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in the third quarter of 2011. October was also dominated by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit eastern Turkey.
The widespread substantial damage throughout Turkey's Van Province is likely to cause economic losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
However, as previously reported by The Insurance Insider, reinsurers are likely to be spared another earthquake loss, with cat modelling agencies AIR Worldwide and Eqecat estimating insured losses at between $55mn and $170mn and $100mn and $200mn respectively.
Insured losses from Hurricane Irene in August were recently pegged at $4.5bn by Property Claims Services (PCS) - an increase of nearly $1bn on a September estimate of $3.65bn.
The PCS estimate puts Irene fifth on the list of highest insured losses for 2011 with most of the losses remaining with primary carriers.