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February’s severe weather costs insurers over $1 billion

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Severe weather in the United States and other countries in February caused insurance losses of more than $1 billion, according to a report published Wednesday by Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team.

Five outbreaks of severe weather hit the United States last month, one of which included 60 confirmed tornado touch-downs in the Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, according to the report by the division of Aon P.L.C.

Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee were among the hardest-hit states as large hail and damaging winds resulted in total economic and insured losses minimally estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but “very likely to be even higher,” according to the report. 

Catastrophic events occurred in other regions of the United States, including storm systems in California that killed at least eight people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in economic damages. One event led to the evacuation of 200,000 residents as Northern California’s Lake Oroville reached full capacity.

Overseas, Windstorm Thomas became the costliest European windstorm of the year when it struck Western and Central Europe, killing three people and causing more than $105 million in insurance losses in the United Kingdom and Germany, according to preliminary estimates. 

A series of powerful thunderstorms in New South Wales, Australia, caused widespread damage and disruption, with the Insurance Council of Australia and local insurers reporting that at least 48,000 claims had been filed with payouts of more than $250 million. The Australian state also dealt with an outbreak of wildfires amid record-breaking heat conditions that caused at least $15 million in insurance losses.

“While the United States endured another active and costly month from severe thunderstorms, it was not the only region coping with major losses from the peril,” Claire Darbinyan, Impact Forecasting’s associate director and meteorologist, said in a statement. “Australian insurers continue to take stock following a major hail event in New South Wales, including the greater Sydney metro region. Given further growth of exposures, hail events will remain a major focus of the insurance industry.”