Worldwide natural disasters toll stood at USD 210 billion in 2020, with less than 40% covered by insurance

7 January 2021 — Alexandra GUZUN
Worldwide natural disasters toll stood at USD 210 billion in 2020, with less than 40% covered by insurance
Worldwide losses from natural disasters in 2020 came to USD 210 billion, of which some USD 82 billion was insured. Both overall losses and insured losses were significantly higher than in the previous year (2019: USD 166 billion and USD 57 billion respectively).

The US share of losses was rather high: Natural disasters in the US accounted for USD 95 billion (2019: USD 51 billion) of overall losses and USD 67 billion of insured losses (2019: USD 26 billion).

Overall, the uninsured precent of natural disaster losses in 2020 was around 60%. In Asia, only a small portion of losses was insured in the growing economies. The year's costliest natural disaster was the severe flooding in China during the summer monsoon rains. Overall losses from the floods amounted to approximately USD 17 billion, only around 2% of which was insured. Insurance solutions either from the private sector or in the form of public-private partnerships could help to improve resilience, in other words the ability to return to normal life as quickly as possible.

In Europe, the natural disaster figures for 2020 were relatively benign. Overall losses came to USD 12 billion, with insured losses of USD 3.6 billion.

"Natural catastrophe losses in 2020 were significantly higher than in the previous year. Record numbers for many relevant hazards are a cause for concern, whether we are talking about the severe hurricane season, major wildfires or the series of thunderstorms in the US. Climate change will play an increasing role in all of these hazards. Five years ago in Paris, the global community set itself the target of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees C2oC. It is time to act." Declared Torsten Jeworrek, Member of the Board of Management.

Ernst Rauch, Chief Climate and Geo Scientist at Munich Re, also commented: "Even if the weather disasters for one year cannot be directly linked to climate change, and a longer period needs to be studied to assess their significance, these extreme values fit with the expected consequences of a decades-long warming trend for the atmosphere and oceans that is influencing risks. An increasing number of heatwaves and droughts are fuelling wildfires, and severe tropical cyclones and thunderstorms are becoming more frequent. Research shows that events such as this year's heatwaves in northern Siberia are 600 times more likely to occur than previously."

The full article is available here.

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