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Record-Setting Storm Season Further Impacts U.S. Economy

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Storms Delta and Zeta add to multi-billion-dollar losses in United States in October

CHICAGO, Nov. 13, 2020 – Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, today launches the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during October 2020.

The report reveals that Hurricane Delta made landfall in the United States on October 9 along the southern coast as a Category 2 hurricane, bringing significant storm surge, incessant rainfall and hurricane-force wind gusts to eastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana. Total economic losses were anticipated to approach $4 billion, with roughly half covered by public and private insurers.

Hurricane Zeta rapidly intensified in the Gulf of Mexico to also make landfall on the southeastern Louisiana coast on October 28 as a high-end Category 2 storm, killing six people and becoming the record 11th-named storm to impact the mainland U.S. during the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Total economic and insured losses were each anticipated to exceed $1 billion.

Major wildfires continued to sweep across regions of the U.S. in October, with the greatest impacts observed in California, Colorado and Oregon. In California, the Glass Fire destroyed 1,555 structures while damaging an additional 280. Seasonal direct economic costs from the fires across California, Colorado and Oregon were estimated to exceed $13 billion, while insurers faced payouts beyond $8 billion, with both estimates subject to change.

Statewide in California, no less than 4.1 million acres (1.66 million hectares) have burned in 2020, resulting in 31 fatalities, and destroying at least 10,488 structures. In Colorado, three of the top four largest fires on the state’s modern record have occurred since July 31.

Meanwhile, in Europe, devastating floods occurred in Alpes-Maritimes of southeastern France and Piemonte in northwestern Italy after the passage of storm Alex, killing at least 16 people, and triggered by extremely intense precipitation during a phenomenon known as a Mediterranean episode. Authorities initially estimated total economic losses at approximately EUR2.7 billion ($3.2 billion), with insurers expecting notable payouts in the hundreds of millions EUR.

Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist on the Impact Forecasting team at Aon, said: “The month of October and into early November continued what had already been a record-setting pace for the Atlantic Hurricane Season. With additional U.S. mainland landfalls, the country has set new records for the number of named storm landfalls (12) and hurricanes (six) in years dating to 1851. While the scope of impact to human life and property has been significant, the reality is most of the landfalls have generally missed the highest population density areas along the coastline. The season has been very active, but it could have been even more difficult.”

Further natural hazard events to have occurred globally in October include:

  • Since the beginning of October, heavy seasonal rainfall due to an extended monsoon season combined with multiple low-pressure systems affected the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra, killing at least 142 people and affecting approximately one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of cropland nationwide, as well as damaging or destroying tens of thousands of houses and other structures. The total combined economic losses were estimated at $4 billion.
  • Unabated seasonal rains aggravated by tropical storms Linfa, Nangka and Saudel prompted catastrophic flash floods and landslides in central parts of Vietnam from October 4 through 23. No fewer than 154 people were killed or missing. The situation later deteriorated due to the impact of Typhoon Molave on October 28.
  • A strong, magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck the eastern Aegean Sea on October 30, causing notable damage in Izmir Province of Turkey and Samos Island of Greece. There were at least 115 fatalities, 1,034 injuries and thousands of buildings with various degrees of structural damage in Turkey. At least 10,000 insurance claims were filed within the Turkish Natural Catastrophe Insurance Pool, and several thousands more with private insurers.
  • Heavy seasonal flooding in Nigeria continued into early October. Since the start of the rainy season in the summer, 155 people have lost their lives and more than 75,000 structures have been damaged or destroyed. During October alone, more than 50 people were killed as heavy flooding occurred in Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Sokoto and Zamfara states.
  • Severe storm with hailstones measuring up to 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) in diameter impacted the greater Brisbane metro region in Australia on October 31. The Insurance Council of Australia (ICAUS) declared a catastrophe and noted 26,000 claims worth AUD300 million ($219 million) as of November 9.

To view the full Impact Forecasting October 2020 Global Catastrophe Recap report, please follow the link:

http://thoughtleadership.aon.com/documents/20201111_analytics-if-october-global-recap.pdf.

Along with the report, users can access current and historical natural catastrophe data and event analysis on Impact Forecasting’s Catastrophe Insight website, which is updated bi-monthly as new data become available:

http://catastropheinsight.aon.com

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