A new report says Hurricane Ian, the Category 4 hurricane that devastated Florida and South Carolina earlier this year, caused the second-largest insured loss since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, CNBC reports. Analysts say the storm was also the year's costliest disaster.
Reinsurer Swiss Re found that Ian caused between $50 billion and $65 billion in insured damages after battering western Florida with extreme winds and torrential rain in September. Swiss Re says the damages underscore "the threat potential of a single hurricane hitting a densely populated coastline in an otherwise benign hurricane year."
The analyst found that, internationally, extreme weather disasters caused an estimated economic loss of $260 billion in 2022, surpassing the 10-year average of $207 billion. Insurances losses from natural disasters are also rising as climate change triggers more frequent and disastrous hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. The reinsurance firm estimated insurance loss damages of $115 billion, again higher than the 10-year average of $81 billion.
Martin Bertogg, head of catastrophe perils at Swiss Re, says 2022's high insurance losses are "underpinning a risk on the rise and unfolding on every continent."
"Urban development, wealth accumulation in disaster-prone areas, inflation and climate change are key factors at play, turning extreme weather into ever-rising natural catastrophe losses," Bertogg explained. "When Hurricane Andrew struck 30 years ago, a USD 20 billion loss event had never occurred before – now there have been seven such hurricanes in just the past six years."