Natural catastrophe losses dramatically increase in 2021
13 January 2022
Worldwide natural disasters destroyed assets totalling Euros 250 billion in 2021, a dramatic increase on the previous year according to Munich Re’s 2021 Nat Cat report, which is accompanied by a warning about the impact of climate change.
Based on provisional data, Munich Re found that storms, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and other extreme weather events destroyed assets totalling Euros 250 billion (US$280 billion) in 2021 -the fourth highest on record.
That figure was up from Euros 185 billion (US$210 billion) in 2020 and Euros 146 billion (US$166 billion) in 2019. The costliest year on record was 2017, with hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
"The images of natural disasters in 2021 are disturbing. Climate research increasingly confirms that extreme weather has become more likely," said Torsten Jeworrek, a member of Munich Re's board.
The figure produced by Munich Re , the world's largest reinsurer, is higher than an estimate of $105 billion that competitor Swiss Re published last month.
Significantly, Munich Re reports around Euros 106 billion (US$120 billion) of the US$280 billion total losses were insured, which is up from Euros 72 billion ($82 billion) in 2020 and Euros billion 50 ($57 billion) in 2019.
The USA accounted for a substantial share of the losses in 2021, costing around Euros 128 billion (US$145 billion), of which approximately Euros 75 billion (US$85 billion) was insured.
In Europe, torrential rainfall in July 2021 triggered severe flooding that resulted in devastating losses in local areas, particularly in western Germany. Flash floods swept away buildings and severely damaged infrastructure, such as railway lines, roads, and killed more than 220 people. Overall, the losses came to Euros 46 billion (US$54 billion), of which Euros 33 billion (US$40 billion) was in Germany.
In Asia-Pacific, losses remained modest, with overall economic losses of US$50 billion, of which US$9 billion were insured (insurance gap 83%).
Ernst Rauch, chief climate and geoscientist at Munich Re and head of the climate solutions unit, said: “The 2021 disaster statistics are striking because some of the extreme weather events are of the kind that are likely to become more frequent or more severe as a result of climate change.
“Among these are severe storms in the USA, including in the winter half-year, or heavy rain followed by floods in Europe.
“For hurricanes, scientists anticipate that the proportion of severe storms and storms with extreme rainfall will increase because of climate change. Adapting to increasing risks due to climate change will be a challenge.”
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