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April was a costly month for catastrophes as hail caused over $1 billion in insured damages in the U.S., while Europe saw a cold spell the damages from which may stretch into the billions of dollars, according to a report Tuesday from Aon PLC’s Impact Forecasting.
Severe storms hit parts of the Central Plains and Middle and Lower Mississippi Valley from April 6-8, causing extensive hail damage in Hamilton and Brazos counties. Most of the total economic losses estimated beyond $500 million are expected to be covered by insurance.
A severe weather outbreak across the Southern Plains, Lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast from April 9-11 included damaging tornadoes, strong straight-line winds, and very large hail, some reaching 4 inches, “larger than a softball,” according to Aon. Total economic losses were estimated at $635 million, with most of the damage likely to be insured.
Severe storms and supercells produced large and damaging hail across central and Southeastern Texas on April 15 – particularly in densely populated regions of Burney, Williamson and Travis counties, north of Austin, causing widespread exterior structural and vehicular damage. Total economic losses were estimated at $975 million.
The U.S. insurance industry is expected to face a multibillion-dollar bill for thunderstorm-related claims payouts, Aon said in a statement with the report.
“Public perception often assumes that tornadoes drive the bulk of annual severe convective storm damage costs. The reality is that large hail typically accounts for a majority of thunderstorm-related losses in North America during any given year, and April 2021 was a case in point,” Steve Bowen, managing director and head of catastrophe insight on the Impact Forecasting team at Aon, said in the statement.
The total economic impact of a significant cold spell in Western and central regions of Europe in the first week of April is expected to be in the billions, although no insured estimates were given. Much of the impact, to viticulture, flowering fruit trees and other vegetation, was in France and Italy.
Canada-based Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.’s underwriting profit increased nearly 45% year-on-year to $149 million in the first quarter despite recording $210.8 million in catastrophe losses, Reinsurance News reported. The property and casualty insurer’s gross premiums written reached $5.4 billion, reflecting a 17.3% growth.