January Floods in Australia and Indonesia Result in $6B in Damage

February 11, 2013

Torrential monsoonal rains prompted severe flooding throughout the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, killing at least 41 people, according to Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe model development center at Aon Benfield, the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon.

Government officials forecast total economic losses of $3.31 billion and insured losses above $311 million. According to the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB), at least 100,274 homes were damaged or destroyed.

The Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales were also impacted by catastrophic flooding during the month, killing at least six people. The Insurance Council of Australia cited insured losses above $313 million, with more than 27,800 insurance claims filed by January 31. Total economic losses in Queensland alone were estimated at $2.5 billion, with the most significant damage recorded in the Queensland city of Bundaberg, where more than 2,500 properties were inundated.

The damage estimates were reported in the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which reviews the natural disaster perils that occurred worldwide during January 2013.

In Southern Africa, record rainfall prompted major flooding in at least five countries, killing more than 100 people. In Mozambique, at least 150,000 people were displaced along the Limpopo and Zambezi river basins, prompting a United Nations request for USD65 million for disaster relief and recovery. Additional flooding occurred in Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Kenya.

Meanwhile, flood damage and fatalities occurred in Brazil, Ecuador, Turkey, China, Philippines, and Sri Lanka during January.

For further analysis of global insured and economic flood losses over the past decade, visit Catastrophe Insight at www.aonbenfield.com/catastropheinsight.

Steve Jakubowski, president of Impact Forecasting, said: “As our January catastrophe report highlights, the potential for excessive rainfall and resultant flooding is a major challenge for countries across the world, and yet it is still one of the lesser modeled perils on a global basis. Impact Forecasting continues to work towards building a comprehensive flood modeling suite that addresses the flood peril. As part of this work, in 2012 we launched our Thai flood model, which has assisted the Thai market to better prepare for a potential reoccurrence of the devastating flood event that impacted the country in 2011.”

Elsewhere in January, a strong United States storm system comprising at least 50 tornadoes –tying 2008 in becoming the second-largest January outbreak since 1950 – spawned widespread severe weather across central and eastern sections of the country, killing at least three people. The Georgia Department of Insurance estimated insured losses of $75 million, while total economic losses were forecast at hundreds of millions of dollars. The most significant damage occurred in Georgia’s Bartow and Gordon counties, where an EF-3 tornado damaged or destroyed 363 homes and 100 vehicles.

Meanwhile, the strongest winter storm in more than a decade brought heavy rain, snow, hail, and damaging winds across much of the Middle East, killing at least 11 people. Israel was most heavily impacted, with total economic losses listed at $345 million, after flooding from overflowing rivers inundated neighborhoods, businesses and infrastructure in low-lying areas. The storm also severely affected parts of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian Territories.

Weeks of very cold temperatures killed at least 329 people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, and wintry conditions also led to damage and travel delays in Europe and the U.S.

Record heat, very dry conditions and gusty winds led to hundreds of wildfires across the Australian states of Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria, killing one firefighter. Tasmania endured most of the damage, with150 homes were damaged or destroyed, and 1,783 insurance claims filed amid total insured losses of $90 million. Losses in Victoria were listed at $9.5 million.

Minor earthquake events occurred in Kazakhstan, China, Indonesia and Chile.

Source: Impact Forecasting

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