The first half of 2015 saw global insured losses reach US$16.5 billion, down 30% from $23.6 billion in the same period last year, according to Swiss Re’s latest sigma estimates. Nonetheless, the global insurance industry covered nearly 45% of the total economic losses of $37 billion for 1H2015, as compared to last year in which it had covered just 40% of 1H2014’s $59 billion economic losses.
Nat CATs caused total economic losses of $33 billion in the first half of 2015, well below the $54 billion in 1H2014 and the 10-year (first-half) average of $99 billion. Of the overall insured losses, $12.9 billion came from natural disasters, down from nearly $20 billion in 1H2014 and again below the 10-year average ($25 billion).
Severe winter weather and thunderstorms in the US and Europe accounted for the costliest Nat CATs in the industry. In February, a winter storm in the northeastern US caused insurance losses of $1.8 billion, the highest loss of any event so far this year. Man-made disasters, meanwhile, triggered an additional $3.6 billion in overall insurance losses in 1H2015, a slight decrease of 6% from 1H2014 ($3.9 billion).
Asian Nat CATs claim highest fatalities
In terms of fatalities, 1H2015 saw about 18,000 lives lost, a significant increase from more than 4,800 in the same period last year. Asian disaster events claimed the highest death toll with the Nepal earthquakes, and heatwaves in India and Pakistan.
The earthquakes that struck Nepal in close succession in April and May had resulted in more than 9,000 fatalities, the largest loss of life due to any natural catastrophes so far this year. The quakes also left many people homeless. Economic losses in Nepal are estimated to be more than $5 billion, but of the losses, only around $160 million were insured losses.
In the same region, India and Pakistan were hit by severe heat waves in May and June. Temperatures soared to 48°C, the highest recorded since 1995. It is estimated that more than 2,500 people died in India and 1,500 in Pakistan as a result of the extreme heat.
Swiss Re noted that another factor in the high number of victims of disaster events in the first half of this year is the number of migrants who have died attempting to reach Europe from conflict zones in northern Africa, often in unseaworthy vessels.