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Natural catastrophes top cause of US corporate insurance losses


Natural catastrophes rank as the top cause of corporate insurance losses in the U.S., accounting for nearly one-quarter of claims in the past five years, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE said in a report released Tuesday.

Globally, natural catastrophes ranked second to fires/explosions, accounting for 15% of losses and $13.9 billion in claims between 2017 and 2022, the report said.

Claims severity has increased, and inflation will push costs higher, the report said.

Hurricanes/tornados are the costliest cause of natural catastrophe loss, accounting for 29% of the value of all claims, driven by two of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, in 2017 and 2021, the report said.

Other leading causes were storm (19%), flood (14%), frost/ice/snow (9%) and earthquake/tsunami (6%).

Insurers have also been seeing new and more unusual loss scenarios, AGCS said in the report.

During 2021 the Texas big freeze and flooding in Germany stood out as large events with unexpected claims, the report said.

The Texas freeze caused huge disruption to infrastructure and manufacturing, with many companies forced into temporary shutdowns by widespread power outages, resulting in some large contingent business interruption losses.

Economic losses from the event are estimated at $150 billion, while winter storm Uri caused $15 billion in insured losses nationwide.

There has been a shift in natural catastrophe activity, said Frank Sapio, senior vice president, regional head of claims, AGCS North America.

Increased wildfire activity and drought conditions in the Western U.S., severe convective storms in the Midwest and significant hurricane seasons have occurred in the last few years, Mr. Sapio said.

“The Texas winter storm was an odd loss in terms of a giant freezing event that knocked out power and caused major losses in the U.S. and around the globe because of contingent business interruption,” he said.

The number of contingent business interruption claims has increased annually for the past five years highlighting the growing interdependence and complexity of corporate supply chains, the report said.

Insurers paid out some $89.9 billion in business insurance claims globally and around $33.7 billion in the U.S. between 2017 and 2022.

The report’s findings were based on an analysis of more than 530,000 insurance industry claims in 207 countries and territories with which AGCS was involved in the five-year period.