The difference in insurance penetration between the developedand developing world was fully illustrated in August, as the firsthurricane striking the U.S. Gulf Coast since 2008 is expectedto cost insurers more than two major typhoons that struck China,according to a report from Aon Benfield.

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The reinsurance broker's catastrophe modeler, ImpactForecasting, released its August Global Catastrophe Recap reportsummarizing cat events for the month.

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There were seven tropical cyclone events causing significantdamage, the report says.

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Hurricane Isaac, which mostly impacted New Orleans and parts ofMississippi, struck the region as a Category 1 storm on Aug. 28 and29, making landfall twice. The report says the storm claimed atotal of 41 lives—seven in the United States and the restthroughout the Caribbean.

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While it is still too early for exact figures, the report sayseconomic losses are expected to be in the single-digit billions ofdollars. Insured-loss estimates are “still in their infancy” and itis still too early to say whether insured losses will approach the$2.3 billion sustained from 2008's Hurricane Gustav, which had asimilar path to Isaac.

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Catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide issued an estimate that insured losses couldreach as high as $2 billion.

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By comparison, there were two typhoons that struck China—TyphoonDamrey and Typhoon Haikui—that the China Insurance RegulatoryCommission says amounted to insured losses of $354 million.

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The most costly, Typhoon Damrey, caused economic damage of $3.28billion, and insured losses of $124 million. Typhoon Haikui causedmore than $2 billion in economic loss and $230 million in insuredloss.

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“August witnessed a series of costly cyclone events globally,which have highlighted not only the disparity in risk managementprocedures between countries, but also the relative levels ofinsurance penetration,” says Steve Jakubowski, president of ImpactForecasting, in a statement. “Taking Typhoon Damrey in China as anexample, the insurance cover may be in the region of three percentof the resultant total economic losses. This is very low comparedto the United States, where we expect insurance cover for wind forHurricane Isaac to be much higher.”

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Another tropical cyclone, Typhoon Bolaven, killed at least 20people when it struck South Korea and produced losses expected toexceed $177 million. Insurance estimates for agriculture and autoclaims are expected to come in at about $106 million.

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Other natural catastrophe events in the United States during themonth included wildfires and severe weather from thunderstorms andhail.

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Elsewhere in North America, insurers suffered hundreds ofmillions of dollars in losses from severe weather in Canada. Hailproduced from a storm on the 12th damaged thousands ofhomes, businesses, vehicles, power lines and trees, primarily inCalgary.

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Tropical Storm Helene and Hurricane Ernesto struck the Caribbeanand Mexico. Damage estimates are unknown for Hurricane Ernesto, butamount to $17 million for Tropical Storm Helene. No insured lossfigures were given.

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