Near Record Tornadoes Hit Insurers in April

An almost record number of killer tornadoes in the US has left insurers facing billions of dollars in claims, according to broker Aon.

Releasing its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during April, Aon said the biggest series of events were in the US.

Extensive US severe weather events prompted a multi-billion-dollar pay out for insurers, as 14 killer tornadoes impacted the US during the month. The total was the fifth-most in any month on record since 1950.

The first major outbreak of the month, from 6-9 April was marked by a complex outbreak that generated more than 30 tornadoes, hail stones larger than the size of baseballs and straight-line winds topping 70 mph (110 kph). That event alone caused economic losses of nearly US$2 billion, with roughly three-quarters of this cost being insured. A prolific tornado outbreak on 12-13 April was another billion-dollar event which was marked by 138 tornado touchdowns.

Elsewhere seasonal flooding caused more than 200 fatalities around the world including in East Africa, with widespread impacts in DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti, although humanitarian impact is expected to be much more significant than financial costs. The Middle East experienced further flooding as Iran reported notable economic losses in southern provinces, and western Yemen was hard hit as well. Indonesia, Vietnam, and Papua New Guinea experienced multiple floods and landslides following heavy rainfall.

Steve Bowen, Director and Meteorologist within Aon’s Impact Forecasting team, said: “The highest frequency of billion-dollar disasters for the global insurance industry in the last decade has been severe convective storms (SCS); accounting for more than 40 percent of such events.

“The United States remains the epicentre for the peril as 54 out of 62 global SCS-related billion-dollar insured events had been recorded from 2010 through Q1 2020 alone. Following another very active month of tornadoes, large hail, and straight-line winds, the country was poised to add multiple events to this total. As exposure growth further accelerates into vulnerable thunderstorm-prone areas and combines with more dynamic atmospheric conditions, it is anticipated that these high-loss events will only grow more frequent in the future.”

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