2019 NatCat loss costs declined to USD 53 billion, WILLIS estimates

27 January 2020 — Andrei Victor
Insured losses from major natural catastrophes in 2019 totaled roughly USD 53.0 billion, about 18% lower than the annual average since 2011. This continues a relative period of calm compared to 2017, when the total loss reached a peak of USD 143 billion, according to the Summary of Natural Catastrophe Events 2019, published by WILLIS Re, the reinsurance division of broking company WILLIS TOWERS WATSON.

The largest insured catastrophe losses in 2019 were in Japan, where tropical cyclones Faxai in September and Hagibis in October delivered insured losses of circa USD 7.0 billion and USD 8.0 billion respectively.

In the US, the largest events were Hurricane Dorian with wide ranging loss estimates and a thunderstorm affecting the High and Central Plains and the eastern US, which brought insured losses of between USD 3.0 billion and 4.0 billion. Elsewhere in the world, no billion-dollar losses occurred.

At year-end, the total reported loss cost of Australia's wildfires, which straddled 2019/20, had reached roughly USD 900 million. The loss now exceeds USD 1 billion based on current exchange rates, so the 2019 share of the total may reach the billion-dollar threshold as further claims and their dates of loss are reported. North America had the largest insured catastrophe-loss bill, with around 46% of the global total in 2019, closely followed by Asia Pacific with 38%.

"Despite this being a lower than average year compared to the previous decade, we have still seen some extreme and unusual events, including back-to-back typhoon losses in Japan, and the large number and scale of bushfires in Australia", said Karl Jones, HEAD of Catastrophe Analytics, WILLIS Re International.

"The year will come as a relative relief to reinsurers, following the extremely costly events of 2017 and 2018. However, the year did bring the strongest-ever land falling hurricane in the Atlantic, Hurricane Dorian", pointed out Vaughn JENSEN, Executive Vice President and Head of North America Catastrophe Analytics at WILLIS Re.

According to WILLIS Re estimates, insured losses from natural catastrophes since 2011 are as follows:

  • 2011 USD 120 billion
  • 2012 USD 60 billion
  • 2013 USD 35 billion
  • 2014 USD 33 billion
  • 2015 USD 23 billion
  • 2016 USD 39.5 billion
  • 2017 USD 143 billion
  • 2018 USD 80.5 billion
  • 2019 USD 53 billion
Average USD 65

Read the full report here: Willis Re Summary of Natural Catastrophe Events 2019 (PDF 4.5 MB)
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