General Insurance Article - Winter storms and extreme cold lead to billion dollar damage


Aon launches its Global Catastrophe Recap – January 2019. This evaluates the impact of global natural disaster events to identify trends, manage volatility and enhance resilience.

 The report reveals that multiple winter storms and extreme cold led to 45 fatalities and a billion-dollar economic cost in the United States. A wind chill temperature of -54°C (-65°F) was recorded in the U.S. Midwest in late January following an extreme outbreak of Arctic air. 

 Excessive rainfall caused significant damage to the agricultural sector, and additionally to property and infrastructure in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. The Confederation of Rural Associations of Argentina estimated agricultural damage alone at USD2.3 billion.

 Australia recorded its hottest month on record - 30°C (86°F) - in January since data began being kept in 1910. Less than normal precipitation only enhanced the ongoing severe drought. At the same time, Northern Queensland was hit by severe flooding. The Insurance Council of Australia cited more than 6,525 claims with payouts nearing AUD80 million (USD57 million), though this figure was expected to rise. Overall economic damage will be substantially higher.

 Michal Lörinc, Catastrophe Analyst at Aon’s Impact Forecasting, commented: “While there was much focus on multiple winter storms and extreme cold via the Polar Vortex in the United States, it allowed an opportunity to remind that weather is local. Australia, for example, experienced the opposite in the form of record-breaking heat. In fact, January 2019 was proclaimed the hottest month on record for the country. Shifts in the behavior of the jet stream and other synoptic features can lead to more unusual and extreme weather phenomena.”

 Other key events included:
 • 80 fatalities resulting from seasonal flooding in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi
 • The first F4 tornado since 1940 touched down near Havana, Cuba
 • Unusually heavy snowfall hit Central Europe on January 1-14, causing substantial damage and deadly avalanches.
 • Heavy rainfall in northwest Spain on January 23-24 resulted in flooding and landslides.
 • Torrential rainfall in northern and western Saudi Arabia caused notable flooding

 For more context on 2018’s catastrophes, discover further insights on Aon’s interactive microsite
   

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