Climate Action

Global insured losses from natural catastrophes recorded at highest rates since 2011

Swiss Re Institute estimates severe thunderstorms account for 70% all insured natural catastrophe losses in first half of 2023.

  • 11 August 2023
  • Press Release

Swiss Re Institute estimates severe thunderstorms account for 70% all insured natural catastrophe losses in first half of 2023.

Swiss Re Institute found in the first half of 2023, the overall economic losses from natural catastrophes amounted to USD 120 billion, compared to USD 123 billion the prior-year period, 46% above the ten-year average.

The Head of Catastrophe Perils at Swiss Re, Martin Bertogg, said: "With severe thunderstorms as the main driver for above-average insured losses in the first half of 2023, this secondary peril becomes one of the dominant global drivers of insured losses.”

“The above average losses reaffirm a 5 – 7% annual growth trend in insured losses, driven by a warming climate but even more so, by rapidly growing economic values in urbanized settings, globally.”

Swiss Re’s research found severe convective storms – storms associated with thunder, lightning, heavy rain, hail, strong winds and sudden temperature changes – caused USD 35 billion in insured losses worldwide in the first half of 2023.

Findings show that insured losses are almost twice as high in a six-month period as the annual average of the last ten years.

Jérôme Jean Haegeli, Swiss Re's Group Chief Economist, said: "The effects of climate change can already be seen in certain perils like heatwaves, droughts, floods and extreme precipitation. Protective measures need to be taken for insurance products to remain economical for such properties at high risk. It is high time to invest in more climate adaption."

In the US, a series of severe thunderstorms prompted insured losses of USD 34 billion in the first half of 2023, the highest ever insured losses in a six-month period.

With ten events causing losses of USD 1 billion and above each, compared to an annual average of six events for the previous ten years. With Texas being the most affected state.

New Zealand was catastrophically hit by two severe weather events just two weeks apart in early 2023, highlighting the growing risk of weather-related perils hitting large urban centres.

 In particular, the North Island of New Zealand was hit in quick succession in the first quarter with severe flooding in Auckland, the country's largest city, and the remnants of Cyclone Gabrielle. Both became the two costliest weather-related insured loss events in New Zealand since 1970, with combined insured losses estimated to be USD 2.3 billion.

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