Disaster events cost insurers a record USD 144 billion in 2017

Global insured losses from disaster events were USD 144 billion in 2017, the highest-ever recorded in a single year, according to the latest sigma study from the Swiss Re Institute.

"Insured losses from natural and man-made disasters worldwide in 2017 were the highest ever recorded in a single year. The insured loss total was USD 144 billion, compared with global economic losses of USD 337 billion (almost double the losses in 2016 and the second highest on record), leaving a worldwide catastrophe protection gap of USD 193 billion."

The biggest losses came from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (HIM), which cost insurers USD 92 billion - equal to 0.5% of US GDP, with economic damages of USD 217 billion, said the report: "The main driver of the high insured losses was an active hurricane season in the North Atlantic. In particular, the HIM hurricanes, which all reached category 4+ intensity, left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean Islands, Puerto Rico, Texas and parts of western Florida. (...) The storms' individual insured losses were divided as follows: Harvey USD 30 billion, Irma USD 30 billion and Maria US 32 billion."

As a result, sigma noted, 2017 was the second costliest North Atlantic hurricane season since 2005.

At the same time, record-breaking losses from wildfires across the globe cost insurers USD 14 billion in 2017, which was "the highest total ever reported in a single year."

In terms of sigma criteria, there were 301 catastrophes worldwide in 2017, down from 329 in 2016. More than 11,000 people lost their lives or went missing in disaster events last year, and millions were left homeless. Natural catastrophes claimed more than 8,000 victims.

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