The Fukushima earthquake, floods in Henan province and most recently Typhoon Rai in the Philippines are among major cat events

Major international catastrophes in 2021 included the heavy snowfall event in Japan in January, the Fukushima Earthquake in Japan in February, severe convective storms in Europe in June, floods in China’s Henan province in July, the heavy rainfall event in Japan in August, severe storms in southern Australia in October, floods in British Columbia in November, and most recently Typhoon Rai in the Philippines and floods in Malaysia.

Out of these events, the Fukushima earthquake, the June storms in Europe and the Henan floods in China have generated a total loss of $9.6 billion for the insurance industry.

The most significant insurance loss event in 2021 was the flooding which affected Western Europe in mid-July, according to CRESTA.

It estimates the devastating floods generated a total industry loss of $12 billion, up from $11 billion in the first estimate released by CRESTA three month ago.

The estimated losses do not include insurance losses funded by the regional governments in Belgium, which amount to a total of $1.2 billion.

While the number of international cat events exceeding $1 billion industry loss in 2021 is not unusual (events captured by the CRESTA Industry Loss Index, ex US), the accumulated loss of $21.6 billion is above the long-term average of $13.7 billion ($17.2 billion corrected for as-if-today).

Further, most of these losses were driven by extreme precipitation events during the summer months, generating huge masses of water within comparatively short time periods.

Such events could become more frequent, driven by higher temperatures and increased water-holding capacity in the atmosphere, as well as the use of impenetrable surface materials as part of urban development and infrastructure construction which prevent water drainage into the soil.

Matthias Saenger, technical manager of CLIX, commented: “With the ever-changing risk landscape driven by a changing climate and growth in insured assets, understanding the past is a key part of detecting trends in the frequency and severity of major natural catastrophe events.”