Winter weather last month affected much of Europe, causing economic losses worth an estimated 1.8bn euro, Impact Forecasting said yesterday.
The latest monthly Global catastrophe recap report from the catastrophe modelling subsidiary of Aon Benfield details at least 30 fatalities which were reported across the continent in March as an extended period of heavy snowfall, sub-freezing temperatures, high winds, ice and flooding hit.
Among the hardest-hit areas were France, Germany and Ukraine, with economic losses put at an estimated 706m in France alone. More than 100,000 insurance claims have already been filed in France, with auto claims in excess of 101m.
Northern sections of Japan also saw heavy snowfall between the end of February and early March with at least nine storm-related fatalities recorded as snow depths of up to 5.5 metres were seen in Hokkaido and northern Honshu. Local governments spent more than $14.2m on the cost of the clean up.
Central and eastern sections of the US were also hit by multiple winter storms, with an early March weather system along the Eastern Seaboard leaving five people dead and causing heavy snow and coastal flooding. Another system at the end of March brought nearly 50 centimetres of snow from the Rockies to the East Coast. Together, the economic losses from these systems have been put at less than $100m.
Steve Jakubowski, president of Impact Forecasting, said: 'The run of frequent winter weather we witnessed in January and February lingered across many of the major economies in the Northern Hemisphere in the month of March.
'However, the level of losses sustained has not been overwhelming for the industry despite the volume of events during the first quarter of 2013.'
The US Southeast was hit by a long-lived, intense squall line, known as a derecho event. This left widespread hail and wind damage with Mississippi among the worst hit states. Its insurance department estimated at least 50,000 claims would be filed, while economic losses across the region were above $250m and insured losses were around $150m.
However, official figures indicate that last month saw just 17 tornadoes across the US - the lowest number of tornado touchdowns recorded in March since 1978.
Severe weather in Asia included a strong tornado in Bangladesh's Brahmanbaria district which left at least 35 people deal and an extended stretch of hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes in China which left 29 people dead, damaged or destroyed 331,250 homes and caused an estimated $443m in economic losses.