Highest frequency ever for global catastrophes in 2014: Swiss Re

0 April 1, 2015 at 2:10 pm by
Dr. Brian Rogers, Senior Business Development Manager, Group Strategy, Swiss Re (left) and Jean-Jacques Henchoz.

Dr. Brian Rogers, Senior Business Development Manager, Group Strategy, Swiss Re (left) and Jean-Jacques Henchoz.

A large group of clients, brokers, industry analysts and speakers met at Swiss Re’s Centre for Global Dialogue in Rüschlikon, Switzerland March 26 for the release of Swiss Re’s latest sigma study on natural catastrophes and man-made disasters (2014).

The event marked the fourth annual in which Swiss Re went beyond simply releasing its annual sigma cat study, and made a day out of the release with a full agenda of speakers presenting on issues ranging from insuring unthinkable events, cyber and aviation risk, to solar storms. A few speakers were included to provide a more international (i.e. out of Europe) angle on various topics, including typhoon and flood risk in China, the Christchurch earthquakes, and lessons learned from the 2013 Calgary floods, presented by yours truly (see the bottom of this post for Slideshare slides).

ICLR Managing Director Glenn McGillivray delivering ‘Lessons learned from North American losses: Alberta, Canada flood.’

ICLR Managing Director Glenn McGillivray delivering ‘Lessons learned from North American losses: Alberta, Canada flood.’

The event was opened by Jean-Jacques Henchoz, former head of Swiss Re’s Canadian life and p&c operations (and also former ICLR board member) and current CEO Reinsurance EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) for Swiss Re.

Lucia Bevere, Senior Catastrophe Data Analyst with Swiss Re Economic Research, then provided a brief overview of the highpoints in the sigma study noting, among other things:

  • Total global economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters were around USD 110 billion in 2014
  • This compares to global insured losses of about USD 35 billion in 2014, below the USD 64 billion-average of the last 10 years
  • There were 189 natural catastrophes worldwide last year, the highest on sigma records
  • Disasters claimed more than 12,700 lives in 2014, one of the lowest ever in a single year
  • Severe thunderstorm losses are trending upward.

According to the study, global insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters were USD 35 billion in 2014, down from USD 44 billion in 2013 and well below the USD 64 billion-average of the previous 10 years. There were 189 natural catastrophe events in 2014 as noted by Swiss Re (the criteria used is outlined in the back of the study), the highest ever on sigma records, causing global economic losses of USD 110 billion. Around 12,700 people lost their lives in all disaster events, down from as many as 27,000 in 2013, making it one of the lowest numbers ever recorded in a single year.

Total economic losses from all disaster events in 2014 were USD 110 billion, down from USD 138 billion in 2013, and well below the previous 10-year annual average of USD 200 billion. Of these total economic losses, USD 101 billion were due to natural catastrophes, with cyclones in Asia Pacific causing the most damage. Of the USD 35 billion in global insured losses last year, USD 28 billion were attributed to natural catastrophe events.



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