Overall losses and insured losses both are tracking above 10-year averages, according to the most recent data published by Munich Re.

“The first half of 2023 is a continuation of the recent run of years with high losses,” they write. “While the overall losses of US$110-billion were lower than those in the first half of 2022 (US$120-billion), they were still well above the average for the last ten years (US$98-billion, inflation-adjusted). The same is true for the insured losses of US$43-billion (previous year: US$47-billion; ten-year average for half-year losses: US$34--billion).” 

They add that less than 40 per cent of overall losses in the first half of the year were insured.

The report looks in some detail at El Niño, a temperature swing in the Pacific which influences extreme weather in many regions, saying it is playing a significant role in 2023. “Research on global temperature trends is unequivocal: rising water and air temperatures worldwide are mainly driven by climate change, in turn causing more weather-related natural disasters and financial losses,” the company states in its release entitled Earthquakes, thunderstorms, floods: Natural disaster figures for the first half of 2023.

Regionally, in North America, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes and hail are driving up losses. 

“Overall losses were US$42-billion, of which approximately US$32-billion was insured – a reflection of the region’s high insurance penetration for thunderstorm losses, motor own damage in particular,” they write. They also note that wildfires in Canada, while notable for the smoke that it spread, did not cause any major relevant losses for insurers. The February 6 earthquake in Syria and Turkey is noted as being the most costly disaster, causing an estimated USD$40-billion in losses.