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European storm losses top $2 billion: Aon Benfield

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Damaging windstorms in western and central Europe in January will cost European insurers more than $2 billion, according to a report published Thursday by Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team.

The most significant of the Atlantic storm systems to hit Europe last month was Windstorm Friederike, which killed at least 13 people after hurricane-force wind gusts and heavy rainfall affected Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, according to the report.

The German Insurance Association reported that Friederike was the costliest windstorm in the country since Windstorm Kyrill in 2007, with preliminary payouts listed at about €1 billion ($1.25 billion). Additional payouts exceeding €100 million were reported by other regional insurance groups. Windstorms Eleanor and Carmen also impacted western and central Europe, killing at least seven people and causing damage in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany and Switzerland.

“A meteorologically active January resulted in elevated windstorm losses in Europe,” Michal Lörinc, a Slovak Republic-based analyst with Impact Forecasting’s Catastrophe Insight team, said in the statement. “When looking at the combined effect of storms Friederike, Eleanor and Carmen, windstorm-related economic and insured losses in Europe are already comparable to the annual totals recorded throughout 2017.”

Elsewhere, a powerful storm system and significant cold impacted much of the central and eastern United States during the first week of January, killing at least 22 people and causing up to $750 million in insurance claims for public and private insurers while total economic damage was estimated at $1.1 billion, according to the report.