Australia, Indonesia Flooding Drives Insurance Claims

Severe flooding in Australia and Indonesia and the worst tornado outbreak in the U.S. since 2008 drove global insurance costs in January, causing covered losses of about $800 million.

The Australia floods killed at least six people and generated $313 million in insured losses, Aon Plc’s Impact Forecasting said yesterday in a report. Economic losses in Queensland alone totaled $2.5 billion. The nation endured flooding in 2011 that led to about $1.6 billion in insured losses.

“The fact that they’ve seen in two of the last three years multibillion-dollar flood events is certainly the biggest takeaway globally,” Steve Bowen, a senior scientist and meteorologist at Impact Forecasting, said in a phone interview.

Torrential rains flooded Jakarta, killing at least 41 people, damaging or destroying more than 100,000 homes and causing insured losses exceeding $311 million. The Indonesian government said economic damage was $3.3 billion, according to the report. The flooding was the worst in the region since 2007.

A flurry of tornadoes in the U.S. in late January killed at least three people and may have caused as much as $75 million in insured losses, according to the report. Fifty tornadoes touched down during the period, tying 2008 as the largest January outbreak since 1950.

Wildfires in Australia last month led to about $100 million in insured losses, most of it in Tasmania, Impact Forecasting said. The company is a catastrophe modeler owned by Aon, the London-based insurance broker.

The Northern Hemisphere didn’t see a major winter weather event last month, according to the report. Europe escaped without experiencing a strong windstorm akin to Klaus in 2009, Kyrill in 2007 or Erwin in 2005.

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