Hurricanes and flooding to blame for the record-breaking figure of $135bn says Munich Re

2017 is expected to be a record-breaking year with the highest total for insured losses, according to Munich Re.

The trio of hurricanes: Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as other natural catastrophes are thought to be to blame for the final insurance bill of $135bn (£100bn).

The overall losses, including uninsured losses, comes to $330bn. This puts 2017 in second for total losses, as the Tohoku earthquake in Japan contributed to losses of $354bn in 2011, adjusted for inflation.

The overall loss figure is almost double the 10-year, inflation-adjusted average of $170bn, and insured losses were almost three times the 10-year average of $49bn.

Munich Res statistics say that there were 710 relevant natural catastrophes, which was also significantly more than the average of 605.

Approximately 10,000 people lost their lives in natural disasters this year, which is a slightly higher figure to last year’s, but much lower than the ten-year average of 60,000.

And experts at Munich Re are telling us to expect these figures to become more regular, as they expect such extreme weather more often in the future as a result of climate change.

Torsten Jeworrek, Munich Re board member responsible for global reinsurance business said: “This year’s extreme natural catastrophes show how important insurance is in absorbing financial losses in the wake of such disasters. For me, a key point is that some of the catastrophic events are giving us a foretaste of what is to come. Because even though individual events cannot be directly traced to climate change, our experts expect such extreme weather to occur more often in future.”

The US share was half of the total amount, 50% compared to the average of 32%, and when you consider the rest of North America, their share rises to 83%.

In Europe, the majority of the damage came as a result of late frost after a long, warmer period. Low temperatures in April caused billions in damage to European farmers since their crops had already grown robustly in an otherwise warm spring. In some areas, harvests were up to 50% smaller than usual.

Losses caused by the late frost amounted to $ 3.6bn, of which only $ 650m was insured, given the low insurance penetration in the agricultural sector.

Ernst Rauch, head of climate and public sector business development said: “The above-average share of insured losses this year masks the reality of how little coverage many parts of the world still have.

“In many developing countries, losses from natural catastrophes often remain almost totally uninsured. And even in highly developed countries like the US, whose share of insured losses is significantly greater, more widespread insurance coverage would still be very beneficial to the economy.”