International natural catastrophe events outside of the US that generated over $1bn in insurance losses created an accumulated $21.6bn loss in 2021

Flooding that hit Western Europe in mid-July last year has been labelled the “most significant” natural catastrophe loss event in 2021 outside of the US, generating a total insurance industry loss of $12bn (£8.8bn), excluding $1.2bn of insurance losses funded by the regional governments in Belgium, according to data from natural catastrophe independent body Cresta.

Publishing its quarterly update of the Cresta Industry Loss Index (CLIX) this week, the report additionally recorded the severe convective storms in Europe in June as another major international catastrophe in 2021. This exceeded $1bn in insurance losses.

CLIX provides industry loss data on international catastrophe events outside of the US that generate insurance losses over $1bn. The latest report showed an accumulated loss of $21.6bn for these events in 2021, which is above Cresta’s long-term average for these types of occurrences of $13.7bn.

Flooding frequency

The update noted that the majority of losses “were driven by extreme precipitation events during the summer months, generating huge masses of water within comparatively short time periods”.

Cresta believes, therefore, that these types of losses could become more frequent, driven by higher temperatures and increased water-holding capacity in the atmosphere.

Impenetrable surface materials that are used for urban development and infrastructure construction will also play a part, according to Cresta, because these materials prevent water drainage into the soil.

Matthias Saenger, technical manager of CLIX, said: “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.”