Two major earthquakes that struck southern Japan, plus one in Ecuador, helped make last month the worst April for five years for natural catastrophes.
The two Japanese quakes caused massive devastation and killed at least 66 people, with more than 4,000 others injured, noted the Global Catastrophe Recap report.
Total economic losses, including physical damage to residential and commercial structures, vehicles and infrastructure, and business interruption, were expected to exceed JPY1.12trn ($10bn), and noted the report from Impact Forecasting, part of Aon Benfield, the reinsurance broking arm of Aon.
The General Insurance Association of Japan reported nearly 70,000 non-life claims had been filed, as total insured losses were expected to breach JPY225bn ($2bn), noted the paper.
A major magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck Ecuador’s northwest coast on April 16, killing at least 660 people and injuring more than 17,638 others.
According to government figures, the total economic cost for the damage and reconstruction was expected to be above $3bn, Impact Forecasting said.
Given low insurance penetration levels, the insured loss “was set to be a fraction of the overall financial cost”, added the report.
“The global footprint of natural disaster losses in April was significant,” said Steve Bowen, director at Impact Forecasting.
“Between major events such as the Kumamoto earthquake, the severe convective storms and flooding in the US, and flooded agriculture in Argentina, economic and insured losses are poised to make this the costliest April since 2011.
“The large differential between the economic and insured losses is yet another reminder of how much opportunity exists for the insurance industry to help engage with governments, communities and businesses around the world to provide the risk expertise that can help mitigate the effects of natural disasters,” he added.
Five outbreaks of severe convective storms hit the US, causing total aggregated economic losses estimated to exceed $4bn, Impact Forecasting said, with insurance losses upwards of $3bn.
Excessive rains led to considerable flooding across Argentina, with the provinces of Entre Rios, Corrientes, Santa Fe, Chaco, Formosa, and Santiago del Estero and Uruguay sustaining the worst damage. Total economic losses to agriculture alone were estimated at ARS18.6bn ($1.3bn).
“A prodigious US rainfall event caused major flash flooding in the greater Houston metro region, resulting in total economic losses expected to exceed $1bn,” said Aon.
Major flood events were also recorded in Chile, China, Ecuador, Uruguay, Haiti, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Uganda, Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia, India, and Afghanistan.
“The combination of heavy rainfall from two tropical disturbances and Tropical Cyclone Zena led to flooding across several islands of the Fiji archipelago, killing two people,” said the report.
“An unseasonably intense heatwave killed at least 300 people in India, with the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh noting temperatures above 44°C (111°F),” it added.