Global disasters led to at least $7 billion in claims during May as insurers aid the recovery process following wildfires, floods, and storms, according to Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team.
An historic wildfire caused catastrophic damage in the Canadian city of Fort McMurray throughout the month of May, becoming the costliest natural disaster in the country’s history with insured losses estimated to be in excess of C$4.0 billion (USD3.1 billion), said the latest edition of Impact Forecasting’s monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report.
The fire roared through more than 580,000 hectares (1.43 million acres) of land and destroyed at least 10 percent of Fort McMurray, including more than 2,400 homes and other structures, the report said, noting that insured losses included physical damage and business interruption.
“The severity of the wildfire damage in Fort McMurray is an unfortunate reminder of how significant insurable losses can be from the peril,” commented Adam Podlaha, global head of Impact Forecasting.
“The situation in Canada has already allowed for a strong and cooperative response from both the government and the insurance industry as residents and business owners seek to assess the damage and begin the recovery process. Since this is just the sixth individual global wildfire to surpass the billion-dollar threshold for insurers, there is not a lot of precedent for a fire event of this magnitude,” he added.
Meanwhile, convective storms and widespread flooding from a storm dubbed “Elvira” swept across parts of northern Europe between late May and early June, killing at least 17 people, the report said.
Most damage was seen in Germany, France, Austria, Poland and Belgium where floods hit many major metropolitan regions, including Paris, it noted.
Insurance industry associations in France (AFA) and Germany (GDV) preliminarily estimated combined minimum claims payouts to exceed €2.0 billion ($2.3 billion). Tentative overall economic damage was estimated to approach €4.0 billion ($4.6 billion).
Five outbreaks of severe convective storms hit the United States during May when tornadoes, straight-line winds, and large hail affected parts of the Plains, Midwest, and Mississippi Valley. Storm-related flooding also caused major damage in portions of Texas during the latter part of the month. Total aggregated insured losses were estimated to exceed $1.0 billion.