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Report: U.S. absorbs 3 of 4 costliest disasters in 2018

January 22, 2019

Global catastrophes cost insurance underwriters and governments $227 billion last year, according to an Aon study published Tuesday estimating the impact of nearly 400 disasters.

Aon determined that California’s Camp Fire was the single biggest insured loss globally as the most destructive fire in recorded history, with 88 deaths attributed to the blazes along with the loss of more than 18,800 structures. The fire caused $12 billion in insured losses and $15 billion in economic losses.

Of insured dollar losses tracked by Aon, nearly two-thirds occurred in the United States including hurricanes Michael and Florence which killed 85 people combined and caused $47.3 billion in combined insurance and economic losses. California’s Woolsey Fire ranked ninth globally with $10.3 billion in damage and losses, with three deaths attributed to the fire.

Globally, more than 40 catastrophes resulted in losses of at least $1 billion, with Typhoon Jebi the third biggest catastrophe after causing 17 deaths and an estimated $21.5 billion in combined losses in Japan last year.

Aon tracked 16 U.S. events causing at least $1 billion in losses, down four from the record number in 2017. Last year’s totals included hailstorms in Colorado that killed three people and resulted in $4.1 billion in damage, and prolonged droughts that caused $5 billion in damage.

Aon estimated at more than $2.9 billion the accumulated impact of a trio of blizzards to hit the Northeast in the first half of March 2018, with 10 deaths attributed to the storms. A band of storms that triggered multiple Connecticut tornadoes in mid-May caused nearly $1.5 billion in damage in their swath from the Rockies through the Northeast, damaging more than 115,000 structures.

Includes prior reporting by Ken Dixon.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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