2017 worst year for national disasters Residential property severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in Key West, Florida on Monday, September 18, 2017. Photo by J.T. Blatty / FEMA

Natural Disasters Made 2017 the Year of Highest Insured Losses Ever

A multitude of natural disasters, including hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, have made 2017 the year of highest insured losses ever, with overall losses amounting to $330 billion.

The final insurance bill for natural disasters, including the Mexico earthquake and the trio of hurricanes, came in at a record $135 billion, according to insurance firm Munich’s Natural Catastrophe Review.

The review, which was published on Jan. 4, found that only 2011 was costlier for overall losses because of the Tokyo earthquake, and of the $330 billion overall losses last year just 41 percent were insured.

The U.S. dominated the statistics, accounting for half the losses. Hurricane Harvey was the biggest natural disaster of 2017, causing losses of $85 billion, and Irma and Maria followed closely behind in financial terms. Although Harvey caused the most overall losses (insured and uninsured), the report found that Irma was actually the costliest natural disaster for insurers coming in at $32 billion of insured losses. The California wildfires, although technically sparked by last year’s increased snow and rainfall, according to Munich, have caused $10.5 billion overall losses in 2017.

Notable losses in other parts of the world included heavy losses for European farmers after crops failed because of late frosts, which cost $3.6 billion overall, and heavy monsoons in Asia which cost 2,700 lives and led to overall losses of $3.5 billion.

“The above-average share of insured losses this year masks the reality of how little coverage many parts of the world still have,” said Ernst Rauch, head of Climate & Public Sector Business Development. “In many developing countries, losses from natural catastrophes often remain almost totally uninsured. And even in highly developed countries like the U.S., whose share of insured losses is significantly greater, more widespread insurance coverage would still be very beneficial to the economy.”

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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