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Storms in Europe leave a $2bn insurance bill

Heavy losses: a tree blocks a street in Amsterdam, Netherlands, after a powerful storm swept through northern Europe last month. Windstorms that impacted Europe in January caused insured losses estimated at more than $2 billion (Photograph by Peter Dejong/AP)

Windstorms since the start of the year are expected to cost European insurers more than $2 billion, according to Aon Benfield.

More than 20 people were killed last month by storms named Friederike, Eleanor and Carmen.

Western and Central Europe were impacted by the storms. The German Insurance Association reported that Friederike was the costliest windstorm in the country since Kyrill in 2007, with preliminary payouts listed at approximately €1 billion ($1.24 billion).

Additional payouts exceeding €100 million ($125 million) were reported by other regional insurance groups. Overall economic losses were higher.

Windstorms Eleanor and Carmen resulted in insured losses preliminary estimated in the hundreds of millions of euro.

Michal Lörinc, an analyst with Impact Forecasting’s Catastrophe Insight team, said: “A meteorologically active January resulted in elevated windstorm losses in Europe.

“When looking at the combined effect of storms Friederike, Eleanor and Carmen, windstorm-related economic and insured losses in Europe are already comparable to the annual totals recorded throughout 2017.”

Elsewhere, a powerful storm system and significant cold impacted much of the central and eastern United States, killing at least 22 people. Total economic damage was estimated at $1.1 billion, while public and private insurers were expected to pay up to $750 million in claims.

Heavy rainfall swept across California, prompting flash flooding, mudslides and debris flow in areas previously impacted by major wildfires in December 2017, killing at least 21 people. Total economic damage was expected to reach well into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, frigid temperatures affected Northern and Eastern China, hitting agriculture and causing damage estimated at $1.8 billion.

Other natural catastrophes during January included heavy rainfall and flooding in France Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and Philippines.; two cyclones in the South West Indian Ocean which led to widespread damage; and a magnitude-7.1 earthquake just offshore Peru’s northern coast.

Aon Benfield is the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon plc. The Global Catastrophe Recap report for January, which was compiled by the catastrophe model development team, can be viewed at http://aon.io/2FVWwb4