Filed Under:Claims, Catastrophe & Restoration

New report details financial impact of September's historical natural disasters

Damaged and destroyed homes in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. island. (Source: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Damaged and destroyed homes in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. island. (Source: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Aon Benfield’s monthly Global Catastrophe Recap is out for September 2017, and the report details both the financial and physical impact of the month’s record setting natural disasters in the U.S., Mexico and across the globe.

Hurricanes strike the U.S.


The report begins first with Hurricane Irma, which first crossed through the northern Caribbean as a Category 5 hurricane, before becoming the first Category 4 storm to make landfall in Florida since 2004 (Hurricane Charley). At least 124 people were killed or missing and hundreds more were injured as major damage was recorded in the U.S., Cuba, Barbuda, the Virgin Islands and the northern Leeward islands.

Related: ‘Extremely active’ hurricane season is 3rd worst on record

Hurricane Maria came next as the second Category 5 hurricane to strike the Caribbean in September. Maria hit Dominica and St. Croix before downgrading to a Category 4 as it devastated Puerto Rico. The report states that Maria was the strongest storm to hit the U.S. island since 1932, resulting in a humanitarian crisis as Puerto Rico still faces widespread power outages and limited access to drinking water, among other catastrophic impacts.

Aon reports that the U.S. National Hurricane Center announced that September 2017 was the most active month ever recorded for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean when measuring the combined strength and duration of storms in the basin.

With assessments still ongoing for both Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Aon’s global catastrophe report says it is too early to provide any specific economic or insured loss estimates for either storm. Public and private insurers faced payouts exceeding $10 billion, and overall, the financial toll of each hurricane is expected to reach well into the tens of billions of U.S. dollars.

Devastation across the globe


In Mexico, three massive earthquakes and Tropical Storm Lidia devastated parts of the country. 2017’s strongest earthquake, a magnitude-8.1, hit the state of Chiapas, and was followed by a magnitude-6.2 aftershock that left at least 103 people dead. At least 367 people were killed and thousands more were injured after a magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck central Mexico, causing extensive physical damage across the greater Mexico City metropolitan area. 

Related: KCC estimates insured losses from Hurricane Maria will be $30 billion

Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist Steve Bowen says these devastating natural disasters are poised to cause a heavy financial burden for federal governments and the insurance industry. Bowen goes on to say that these events combined with the those of July and August are expected to make the third quarter of 2017 one of the costliest quarters ever registered for natural disasters.

Aon’s report goes on to detail other events that reeked devastation across the globe in September. Vietnam, the Philippines, southern China and Laos were struck by Typhoon Doksuri, which left 40 people dead and damaged nearly 250,000 homes. Flood events in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed at least 105, and in Uganda, 23 people were killed or missing.

In the western United States, record-setting heat, droughts and gusty winds set the stage for major wildfires across several states, destroying hundreds of homes and properties, and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses.

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