Natural catastrophes drive global insured losses to $31bn in H1

Helicopter surveying flood

Natural disasters and man-made catastrophes caused $71bn worth of damage in the first half of 2016.

This was 38% more than the same period last year, according to estimates by Swiss Re.

The world’s second largest reinsurance firm said the cost to insurers for the first six months of the year was $31bn, up 51% on 2015.

But the number of disaster-related fatalities fell by half to 6,000.

Thunderstorms in the US and Europe were the costliest events for the insurance sector in the first half.

In Asia, the key event that caused the most damage was a series of earthquakes that struck the Kumamoto prefecture in Japan, including a 7.0-magnitude quake that struck during the early hours of 16 April 2016. The quakes resulted in extensive structural damage, fires, and collapsed buildings. Insured losses from the series of shocks amounted to $5.6bn. There were 64 fatalities.

Total global insured losses from natural catastrophes rose to $28bn, driven by large losses from different perils, from thunderstorms to wildfires, across all regions. This is slightly above the annual average first-half loss of the previous 10 years, the reinsurer said.