The Atlantic Ocean could produce more “major” hurricanes this year than it did in 2012, according to a company that provides weather forecasts for corporate clients.
In an early hurricane forecast released Thursday, ImpactWeather Inc. predicted that 2013 will see two to four major hurricanes, which the company defines as category 3 or greater, meaning sustained winds of at least 111 mph.
Hurricane Sandy is estimated to cost The Travelers Cos. $650 million after the company accounts for tax and reinsurance.
Reinsurance is insurance for insurers, covering insured costs if the dollar amount reaches a certain level.
Hurricane Sandy damaged or destroyed about 230,000 vehicles, according to an analysis of insurance claims filed as of last week.
Most of those were in New York and — 130,000 automobiles — followed by New Jersey, which had about 60,000 insurance claims for vehicles, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Insurance Services Office, which is a subsidiary of Verisk Analytics.
Climate change increased the number of hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather-related catastrophes by nearly five times in North America during the past 30 years, according to research published Wednesday by the world’s largest reinsurer, Munich Re.
The German reinsurer said that “nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America.”
Insurance companies and reinsurers, which provide property coverage to insurers, have paid out between $10.4 billion and $110.8 billion annually to cover natural disasters worldwide between 2000 and 2009, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.
Separately, I wrote recently about the rising liability costs to insurers to pay lawyers in defending against climate-change related lawsuits, of which there have been more than 500 since 1989, according to a tally by a Columbia University law professor.
Between 1980 and 2011, the total insured property cost of weather-related catastrophes in the U.S. was $510 billion. About 30,000 people died as a result of storms during this period.
Munich Re, the parent company of Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co., was careful to point out that the rising cost of storms and catastrophes is due to factors other than climate change.
“The increasing losses caused by weather related natural catastrophes have been primarily driven by socio-economic factors, such as population growth, urban sprawl and increasing wealth,” Munich Re said in a press release.
Here are some excerpts from Munich Re’s release:
- The study was prepared in order to support underwriters and clients in North America, the world’s largest insurance and reinsurance market. Using its NatCatSERVICE — with more than 30,000 records the most comprehensive loss data base for natural catastrophes — Munich Re analyzes the frequency and loss trends of different perils from an insurance perspective. The North American continent is exposed to every type of hazardous weather peril — tropical cyclone, thunderstorm, winter storm, tornado, wildfire, drought and flood. One reason for this is that there is no mountain range running east to west that separates hot from cold air.
- Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America. The study shows a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America. Anthropogenic climate change is believed to contribute to this trend, though it influences various perils in different ways. Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.