Thunderstorms in US and Europe “more destructive than ever” in 2023: Munich Re

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According to a new report from Munich Re, thunderstorms in North America and Europe in 2023 were “more destructive than ever before”, driving overall losses of $76 billion, and insured losses of $58 billion.

munich-re-logo-buildingThe reinsurer observed that such high thunderstorm losses have never been recorded in the USA or Europe.

“Assets worth around $66bn were destroyed in North America, of which $50bn was insured, while in Europe the figure was $10bn (€9.1bn), of which $8bn (€7.3bn) was insured,” Munich Re explained.

As per the firm’s report, a large body of scientific research indicates that climate change favours severe weather with heavy hailstorms.

Similarly, loss statistics from thunderstorms in North America and other regions are trending upwards.

Meanwhile, worldwide, Munich stated that natural disasters in 2023 resulted in losses of around $250bn (previous year $250bn), with insured losses of $95bn (previous year $125bn). Overall losses tally with the five-year average, while insured losses were slightly below the average figure of $105bn.

Sadly, the number of deaths caused by natural disasters rose to 74,000 in 2023, well above the annual average of the last five years (10,000).

“After years of relative calm, a series of devastating earthquakes led to humanitarian disasters. Around 63,000 people (85% of the year’s total fatalities) lost their lives as a result of such geophysical hazards in 2023 – more than at any time since 2010,” Munich Re said.

As mentioned, economic losses from natural disasters were largely dominated by severe storms, with 76% of overall losses being weather-related, while 24% had geophysical causes.

The series of earthquakes in southeast Turkey and Syria in February was of course the year’s most destructive natural disaster.

Munich Re noted that 58,000 people were killed in the event, and with overall losses of around $50bn, it was also the year’s costliest natural disaster.

Thomas Blunck, Member of the Board of Management, commented, “The year 2023 was once again characterised by extremely high insured losses from natural disasters, despite the fact that there were no extreme individual losses.

“This underlines the important role that insurance plays in cushioning the consequences of natural disasters. Comprehensive data and in-depth knowledge of changes in risks remain key factors when designing covers to protect people against natural disasters.

“A further important aspect is prevention. The number of victims from the devastating earthquakes this year is a wake-up call to ensure better protection for people by adapting construction methods.“

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