General Insurance Article - Aon Benfield reviews global catastrophes in April

 Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe model development centre of excellence at Aon Benfield, has released the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which reviews the natural disaster perils that occurred worldwide during April.

 The report reveals that a magnitude-6.6 earthquake struck China's Sichuan Province, killing at least 196 people and injuring 13,484 others. An unofficial media estimate quoting local government officials estimated economic losses at CNY169bn($27bn). If verified, potential insured losses would be around CNY1.5bn($250m), given a local insurance penetration of approximately 1%.

 Two strong earthquakes took place in Iran in April, including a magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck southern Iran, killing at least 41 people and injuring 1,100 others across 92 villages. Iranian provincial officials recorded economic damages of IRR7.37tr($600m). A stronger magnitude-7.8 tremor hit near the Iran/Pakistan border, with all 36 casualties occurring in Pakistan's Balochistan Province.

 Additional earthquake events were recorded in Japan, Afghanistan and Hungary.

 Steve Jakubowski, president of Impact Forecasting, comments "The earthquake events in China and Iran during the month of April highlight the importance of catastrophe modelling. Impact Forecasting has developed a suite of earthquake models for countries around the world that are proficient at quantifying and qualifying insurers' and reinsurers' potential regional exposures. While it is virtually impossible to predict where and when the next major earthquake will occur, we are continually learning more about the peril to strengthen our capabilities."

 Preliminary data from the United States' Storm Prediction Center indicated that only 83 tornadoes touched down in April, which, if confirmed, would represent a 60% decrease from the 206 tornadoes in April 2012 and an 89% decrease from the record 758 tornadoes in April 2011.

 Most of the US severe weather damage occurred from hail and damaging wind events in the Plains, Midwest and Southeast, with at least five events combining to cause a minimum of $700m in economic losses.

 Severe flooding affected the US Midwest, where rivers crested well beyond flood stage in the states of Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri following prolonged rainfall. Initial data from damage assessments suggest total economic losses in the hundreds of millions(USD).

 Rounds of severe thunderstorms also affected China, where multiple events swept across central, southern and eastern sections of the country. The Ministry of Civil Affairs reported that tornado touchdowns, severe winds and hail killed 14 people and damaged more than 100,000 homes. Total economic losses were listed at CNY2.86bn($463m).

 Record rainfall impacted areas of Argentina's city and province of Buenos Aires, prompting severe flash flooding that killed at least 70 people. The La Plata region was hardest hit, with 400 millimeters(15.74 inches) of rain in two hours, leading to extensive flooding across many parts of the city. Overall economic losses were cited at m).

 Flooding was also prevalent across multiple African countries, with Kenya sustaining some of the worst effects. Seasonal rains, which initially began in March, led to flooding and landslides that killed at least 66 people. Total economic losses were estimated at KES3bn($36m).

 Meanwhile, torrential rains prompted flash flooding across northern New Zealand. The Insurance Council of New Zealand reported that a combined 1,500 home and contents claims had been filed in the Nelson and Bay of Plenty regions, and that insured losses would exceed NZD16.8m($14.2m).

 Flooding and landslide events also occurred in Ecuador, China, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Ghana, Ethiopia and Angola.

 To view the full Impact Forecasting April 2013 Global Catastrophe Recap report click here 

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