Munich Re estimates global insured nat cat losses at USD 120 billion in 2022

16 January 2023 — Andrei Victor
Global reinsurer Munich Re informed it estimates 2022 overall losses of around USD 270 billion (previous year USD 320 billion) of which roughly 44% or USD 120 billion were covered by the insurance industry. Munich Re representatives pointed out that 2022 overall losses were close to the average for the last five years, while insured losses were roughly USD 23 billion above the 2017-2021 average (USD 97 billion).

"Two factors should be kept in mind when considering the 2022 natural disaster figures. Firstly, we are experiencing La Ni?a conditions for the third year in a row. This increases the likelihood of hurricanes in North America, floods in Australia, drought and heatwaves in China, and heavier monsoon rains in parts of South Asia. At the same time, climate change is tending to increase weather extremes, with the result that the effects sometimes complement each other", explains Ernst Rauch, Chief Climate Scientist at Munich Re.

According to Munich re, hurricane Ian was responsible for more than one third of overall losses and for roughly half of insured losses worldwide. This powerful tropical cyclone made landfall on the west coast of Florida in September with wind speeds of almost 250 km/h (150 mph). Only four other storms on record have been stronger when making landfall on the US mainland, while some others were of a similar strength to Ian. According to provisional estimates, it caused overall losses of around USD 100 billion, of which USD 60 billion was insured (not including NFIP2). In terms of insured losses adjusted for inflation, Ian was the second-costliest tropical cyclone on record after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The year's second-costliest and greatest humanitarian disaster was severe flooding in Pakistan resulting from record-breaking monsoon rainfall. In the month of August, rainfall there was between five and seven times heavier than usual. Accelerated glacier melt as a result of the high temperatures significantly increased the flooding. At least 1,700 people were killed. Direct losses are estimated to be at least US$ 15bn - an enormous amount given the size of the country's GDP. Almost nothing was insured and countless people lost all their belongings.

For insurers, the second-costliest single natural disaster in 2022 was flooding in the southeast of Australia in February and March. In the states of Queensland and New South Wales, extreme rainfall led to countless flash floods and severe river flooding. Numerous residents had to be rescued from their homes by boat or helicopter. The floods also affected the major population centres of Brisbane and Sydney. Of the overall losses of approximately USD 6.6 billion, just under USD 4 billion was insured. In October, torrential rainfall again resulted in disastrous flooding in the southeast of the country. However, losses were not as severe as those at the start of the year. Overall, floods in Australia caused losses of USD 8.1 billion last year, of which USD 4.7 billion was insured.

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