For a record eighth straight year, tornadoes and other severe thunderstorms likely caused at least $10 billion in property damage in the United States, according to an analysis by Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurance firm, which is based in Germany.
The deadly tornadoes in December damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and businesses across the South, which should push the total over the $10 billion mark for 2015.
“No year prior to the 2008-2015 period had insured thunderstorm losses been in excess of $10 billion,” said Mark Bove, a Munich Re research meteorologist.
Factoring in other damaging weather such as winter storms, floods and tropical storms, the USA had a total of $15 billion in insured losses in 2015, which is half of the recent average of $30 billion per year. The quiet hurricane season helped suppress the damage total. Hurricanes typically are the main contributors to property damage in the U.S.
El Nino helped suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean, Munich Re said.
Insured losses because of winter storms were the second-highest on record, totaling $3.5 billion.
Worldwide, the costliest natural catastrophe for the insurance industry in 2015 was the series of winter storms that struck the Northeast U.S. and Canada early in the year, according to Munich Re.
Globally, natural disaster insurance claims fell to the lowest level since 2009, at $27 billion.
Re-insurers such as Munich Re offer backup policies to companies that write primary insurance policies. Re-insurance helps spread risk, so the system can handle large losses from natural disasters.
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