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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

US severe weather losses approach $1bn in April

Insured losses from severe weather events across central and southern sections of the United States last month totalled almost $1bn, Aon Benfield said yesterday.


The latest edition of the consultancy’s Global Catastrophe Recap report, published by Impact Forecasting, detailed at least 94 tornado touchdowns which were recorded during a 72-hour stretch in the month’s most notable outbreak.

In Kansas, a tornado with its strength rated three on the Enhanced Fujita scale hit just outside Wichita, affecting at least 777 homes and 165 businesses. Additional tornado damage occurred in southwest Iowa and northwest Oklahoma, killing at least six people, and the report said total insured losses from the outbreak were expected to reach into hundreds of millions of dollars.

In Texas, a severe weather outbreak involving at least 21 tornados and widespread hail damaged more than 1,100 homes in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metro region alone.  With total economic losses from this estimated at around $1bn, insurers have received at least 105,000 claims, with payouts of more than $650m.

Meanwhile, in South America, at least 18 people were killed and 20 more injured as severe weather struck Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, affecting at least 32,000 homes.

President of Impact Forecasting Steve Jakubowski said: ‘While not as substantial as the historic 2011 season to this point in terms of overall losses, the 2012 severe weather season has certainly caused significant damage across portions of central and southern sections of the United States.

‘Tornado frequency data dating to 1991 indicates that May is typically the most active tornado month of the year in the US, which is a warning to all residents and insurers to remain cognisant to potential storm threats.’

South America also saw flooding last month, with at least 13,654 homes damaged in Paraguay and at least 19 people killed and 25,000 homes destroyed in Colombia and Peru.

In China, six separate provinces were affected by several events of hail and damaging winds. The first event damaged more than 200,000 homes and caused a $120m economic loss, while the second killed at least 12 people, damaged 25,400 homes and resulted in a $84m economic loss.

Further incidents reported by Impact Forecasting include high winds and hail in Vietnam which killed two people and caused a total economic loss estimated at $5m, while in Japan a powerful spring storm system left at least four people dead and affected power supplies and transport.

Meanwhile, Typhoon Pakhar became the first cyclone to make landfall this year in the Northwest Pacific. It came onshore in southern Vietnam, killing at least two people and damaging homes, infrastructure and agriculture.

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