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March flooding hits insurers

Two abandoned cars are submerged next to I-29 near Jefferson, South Dakota, after record flooding in March.

Public and private insurers expect to pay up to $1 billion in claims as a result of flooding in the U.S Midwest in the aftermath of severe spring storms, Aon PLC said in its Global Catastrophe Recap for March 2019.

Severe river flooding swept across the Missouri and Mississippi river basins through March 28, inundating parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota in the wake of an expansive spring storm system from March 12-14 including periods of heavy snowfall, heavy rain, record temperatures, severe thunderstorms, and hurricane-force synoptic winds from the Rockies to the Upper Midwest.

Insurers are expected to cover roughly $140 million of total economic losses estimated at $190 million resulting from a significant tornado outbreak across parts of the southeastern United States on March 3-4, leading to notable damage across several communities in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, Aon said.

Insurers are also expected to cover most of the total economic losses expected to exceed $100 million from severe thunderstorms on March 27 which spawned hail up to 2 inches in Brevard County, Florida. Damage was most prevalent to vehicles and structural roofs/siding, Aon said.

To the North, Aon said insurers paid up to CA$60 million ($45 million) of total economic losses estimated at up to CA$150 million ($110 million) as a combination of heavy rainfall, warming temperatures, and melting snow led to notable flooding throughout portions of southern Ontario and southwestern Quebec in Canada on March 9-11. The floods were exacerbated by the presence of an abnormally large snowpack, according to Aon.

Globally, flooding is estimated to have caused some $8 billion in economic damages during March, Aon said.

Economic and insured losses are expected into the hundreds of millions of euros, as Windstorm Eberhard swept through parts of Western and Central Europe on March 10, incurring widespread damage and disruption and becoming the costliest event of the 2018-19 windstorm season in Europe, Aon said.

Total economic and insured losses are expected to exceed €100 million ($115 million) after Windstorm Freya brought moderate impacts to parts of France, Germany and the Benelux countries of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg on March 3-5, with most damage from downed trees and power lines on properties and vehicles.

“The major catastrophe events of March highlighted the continued vulnerabilities which exist in both developed and emerging markets,” Michal Lörinc, senior catastrophe analyst at Aon’s Impact Forecasting unit, said in a statement released with the report.

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