Total combined economic losses from heavy seasonal rainfall across India are estimated at $4 billion

A report on natural catastrophes during the month of October 2020 reveals that hurricanes and devastating wildfires are driving claims losses. Aon’s Impact Forecasting notes that storms Delta and Zeta have added to multi-billion-dollar losses in the US in October.

Hurricane Delta made landfall in the US on 9 October along the southern coast as a Category 2 hurricane, bringing significant storm surge, incessant rainfall and hurricane-force wind gusts to eastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana. Total economic losses were anticipated to approach $4 billion, with roughly half covered by public and private insurers.

Hurricane Zeta rapidly intensified in the Gulf of Mexico to also make landfall on the southeastern Louisiana coast on 28 October as a high-end Category 2 storm, killing six people and becoming the record 11th-named storm to impact the mainland US during the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Total economic and insured losses are each anticipated to exceed $1 billion.

Major wildfires continued to sweep across regions of the US in October, with the greatest impacts observed in California, Colorado and Oregon. In California, the Glass Fire destroyed 1,555 structures while damaging an additional 280. Seasonal direct economic costs from the fires across California, Colorado and Oregon were estimated to exceed $13 billion, while insurers faced payouts beyond $8 billion, with both estimates subject to change.

Statewide in California, no less than 4.1 million acres (1.66 million hectares) have burned in 2020, resulting in 31 fatalities, and destroying at least 10,488 structures. In Colorado, three of the top four largest fires on the state’s modern record have occurred since July 31.

In Asia, since the beginning of October, heavy seasonal rainfall due to an extended monsoon season combined with multiple low-pressure systems affected the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra, killing at least 142 people and affecting approximately one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of cropland nationwide, as well as damaging or destroying tens of thousands of houses and other structures. The total combined economic losses were estimated at $4 billion.

In Australia, a severe storm with hailstones measuring up to 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) in diameter impacted the greater Brisbane metro region on October 31. The Insurance Council of Australia (ICAUS) declared a catastrophe and noted 26,000 claims worth A$300m as of November 9.

Meanwhile, in Europe, devastating floods occurred in Alpes-Maritimes of southeastern France and Piemonte in northwestern Italy after the passage of storm Alex, killing at least 16 people, and triggered by extremely intense precipitation during a phenomenon known as a Mediterranean episode.

Authorities initially estimated total economic losses at approximately €2.7 billion ($3.2 billion), with insurers expecting notable payouts in the hundreds of millions of euros.

Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist on the Impact Forecasting team at Aon, said: “The month of October and into early November continued what had already been a record-setting pace for the Atlantic Hurricane Season. With additional US mainland landfalls, the country has set new records for the number of named storm landfalls (12) and hurricanes (six) in years dating to 1851. While the scope of impact to human life and property has been significant, the reality is most of the landfalls have generally missed the highest population density areas along the coastline. The season has been very active, but it could have been even more difficult.”