Cat events driven by hurricanes caused US$130 billion in insured losses this year

Published: December 23, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Natural catastrophes took a significant toll on the global insurance industry through 2017, resulting in insurance losses of over US$130 billion. Swiss Re says three hurricanes accounted for over US$90 billion of the overall losses. Total cat insurance losses of US$136 billion is more than double the average of the previous 10 years.

In preliminary data released this week, Swiss Re said the insurance losses from cat events (both man-made and natural) was more than double the US$65 billion losses recorded in 2016 and above the US$58 billion annual average recorded over the last decade.

2017 was “second costliest hurricane season on sigma records after 2005,” Swiss Re said. The majority of the losses were caused by three hurricanes in North American, two that hit the USA in Texas and Florida, and one that swept through Puerto Rico and Louisiana. It was a record year for hurricanes in the United States, with two cat 5 level storms making landfall.

Hurricane Harvey reached the landfall, becoming the first major storm to do so since 2005. Landing on Aug. 25, Harvey caused severe flooding in Houston, although Swiss Re points out much of the flooding was uninsured.

The next major hurricane was Irma, a devastating storm that made two landfalls in Florida, causing widespread damage in Jacksonville.

Finally, Hurricane Maria was a tropical storm that destroyed the island of Puerto Rico in September.

“Given the vast geographic footprint of the hurricanes, which affected multiple locations in quick succession and impacted multiple lines of business, a full assessment of the insured losses is still ongoing,” Swiss Re said. The estimated insurance losses from Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria combined is US$93 billion.

“More than 11,000 people have died or gone missing in catastrophe events, similar to 2016,” Swiss Re said. “Extreme weather in the US in the second half of 2017 has been the main cause of the high number of full-year insured losses.”