General Insurance Article - Severe snowfall in Spain leads to billions in economic loss

Aon has launched the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during January 2021.

 The report reveals that a low-pressure system ‘Filomena,’ caused severe snowfall in Spain, leading to business interruption and property losses tentatively estimated at nearly EUR1.8 billion ($2.2 billion). Insurance payments in the agricultural sector, along with flood-related property claims, only reached into the tens of millions EUR.

 In the United States, an atmospheric river and low-pressure system impacted the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West and Northern Plains between January 11-14. Intense wind and rain resulted in total economic losses estimated at $525 million, amid widespread power outages, flash flooding, landslides, downed trees and property damage. Slightly more than half of the losses were covered by insurance.

 An unseasonably strong high wind event impacted central and southern California between January 17-20. Wind
 gusts across the Sacramento Valley, Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles reached 60 to 70 mph (95 to 115 kph), with maximum gusts at higher elevations topping 90 mph (145 kph). Total losses were estimated at $350 million, with more than 50 percent covered by public and private insurers.

 Cyclone Eloise made an initial landfall in Madagascar on January 19 before rapidly intensifying and striking Mozambique the same day as a Category 2-equivalent storm, killing at least 25 people. Landfall occurred near the city of Beira, which is still recovering from cyclones Idai and Kenneth (2019), and tens of thousands of homes
 were damaged or destroyed in Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa.

 Michal Lörinc, catastrophe analyst for Aon’s Impact Forecasting team, said: “While the European Windstorm season to-date has been relatively calm in comparison to peak loss years, winter Storm Filomena brought wintry conditions and cold temperatures not seen in Spain in two decades. Winter weather is not often a primary driver of annual financial losses, but the level of direct and indirect disruption due to extreme freeze or excessive snowfall can lead to notable commercial and supply chain challenges.”

 Further natural hazard events that occurred in January include:
 • Two notable outbreaks of severe weather with strong winds and heavy snowfall affected western Canada on January 12-14 and 19-20. Total economic and insured losses were anticipated to reach into the tens of millions USD.
 • A magnitude-6.4 (USGS) earthquake struck San Juan Province in west-central Argentina on January 18. At least 3,000 structures were destroyed and 30,000 more were damaged.
 • In an active stretch of cyclonic weather, Windstorms Christoph and Hortense impacted parts of Western Europe on January 20-22 with strong winds and heavy rain. Significant flood-related losses from Christoph were registered in England and Wales.
 • Heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions affected northwestern parts of Japan from January 7-12. As many as 23 people were killed, while total economic and insured losses were each expected to reach into the hundreds of millions (USD).

 To view the full Impact Forecasting January 2021 Global Catastrophe Recap report
 Along with the report, users can access current and historical natural catastrophe data and event analysis on Impact Forecasting’s Catastrophe Insight website, which is updated bi-monthly as new data become available:

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