Insured Losses of $850M from Midwest, Rockies Storms Lead August Cat Recap

Floods, rain, hail and wind were the major drivers of damage and destruction in August 2013, says Aon’s latest global catastrophe recap report.

Severe weather in the Midwest and the Plains early in the month included baseball-sized hail and winds of more than 80 mph, contributing to conditions that caused insured losses in excess of $625 million. The states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, which experienced an EF-2 tornado, were the hardest-hit.

“Once assessments are fully complete, it is expected that aggregate U.S. insured losses from severe weather events in the month of August will reach $1 billion,” says Steven Bowen, senior scientist and meteorologist at Aon Benfield.

Insured losses of more than $225 million were caused by early August storms and tornadoes in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Aon says most damaged was from softball-sized hail and floods in Colorado that affected homes, businesses, schools, vehicles and agriculture. Economic damages tallied more than $400 million.

The Rim Fire, the fourth-largest wildfire in California’s history, destroyed 111 structures in Tuolomne County in late August and early September, and cost $72 million to bring under control. 

On the first of the month, powerful thunderstorms swept across the Rockies and the Plains with gusts of up to 104 mph winds and golf-ball sized hail. Property damage and crop losses are expected to bring economic losses of more than $50 million. 

Other notable catastrophe events in the U.S. in August included rainfall in the Plains and Tennessee Valley that led to flash floods and inundated basements to the tune of $25 million in economic losses.

Elsewhere, rainfall in China, especially in the country’s northeast region around the Heilongjiang River, which swelled to record levels, damaged or destroyed 306,000 homes and killed 260 people.  Economic losses in the region reached at least $5.3 billion.

“Last month’s events were highlighted by flooding across Asia. From an insurance perspective, despite the $10 billion in economic losses, only a fraction of these losses are covered by insurance given the low level of penetration in China, Philippines, Russia and Pakistan,” says Bowen.

Torrential rains also inundated the Amur and Zeya rivers, which affect five regions, and led to the worst flooding in over a century in Russia’s Far East. No fatalities were reported, but nearly 7,000 homes, 220 roads and 62 bridges were damaged or destroyed. 

Super Typhoon Utor, which made separate landfalls in the Philippines and China, damaged more than 21,000 homes on Philippines Luzon Island, costing $33 million overall, before moving on to China, where it killed 70 people and caused $2.6 billion in economic losses.

Australia experienced a strong tornado on August 3, which caused $9.1 million in economic losses, and a series of earthquakes in New Zealand left no fatalities, but around 3,000 claims for home structural damage due to cracking and fallen indoor content.

The passage of Typhoon Trami in the Philippines put more than 60 percent of urban Manila underwater. Officials estimated overall damages at $2.2 billion.

Monsoons also ravaged areas of Pakistan, taking the lives of 208 villagers and causing $1.9 billion in agricultural losses.

About the Author
Anya Khalamayzer, PropertyCasualty360.com

Anya Khalamayzer, PropertyCasualty360.com

Anya Khalamayzer is Assistant Editor of Risk for PropertyCasualty360-National Underwriter. Khalamayzer graduated from CUNY Baruch College after intensive internships with Time Out New York Kids and Crain’s Investment News. Keenly interested in environmental science, music and the arts, her articles have been published in Gotham Gazette, Wonkster blog and Ear to Mind magazine. She can be reached at akhalamayzer@summitpronets.com

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