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2017 was the costliest year on record for weather disasters: Aon Benfield

Insured losses for the year reached US$134 billion

Last year was the costliest on record for weather disasters, according to a new report from Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team.

According to the Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight: 2017 Annual Report, there were 330 natural catastrophe events in 2017, leading to $US353 billion in economic losses—the second costliest year on record. Weather-related events accounted for 97% of the losses.

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Insured losses reached a total of US$134 billion, falling just short of the record US$137 billion set in 2011. But, according to Aon Benfield CEO Eric Andersen, the reinsurance market is in a good position to cover the losses.

“While 2017 was an expensive year for the insurance industry, the reinsurance market had an estimated $US600 billion in available capital to withstand the high volume of payouts,” Andersen said in a press release. “Most critically, the US weather and wildfire events in particular have demonstrated the value of reinsurance, with claims being paid in an average of eight days to augment the recovery process.”

Aon Benfield reports that wildfires represented $US14 billion in insured losses in 2017, making it the costliest year on record for the peril.

The reinsurance brokerage also noted that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria accounted for 36% of insured losses (US$80 billion) in 2017. Other notable natural catastrophes included Typhoon Hato in China and Cyclone Debbie in Australia, as well as two powerful earthquakes that hit Mexico in September.

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