Experts on natural catastrophe risk at Allianz have highlighted the growing trend in insured losses arising from natural catastrophes worldwide in a risk briefing – the Allianz Risk Pulse: Focus Natural Catastrophes – which is released today. The average annual cost of insured claims from natural catastrophes has increased eight-fold since 1970 (up from some 5 billion US-dollars in the 1970s and 1980s to over 40 billion US-dollars in 2010).
The main reason is economic growth: property values are rising, population density and insurance penetration are increasing, often in high risk areas – a trend that is compounded by the fast growth of some Asian economies in catastrophe-prone regions. The impact of climate change must also be closely watched.
The Allianz analysts have also noted that, during the past decade, the earthquakes which caused the highest fatalities were not necessarily the strongest ones. For example, the 2010 quake in Haiti released 500 times less energy than the quake that hit Chile two months later – yet the Haitian quake wreaked much more havoc. The factors which determine the impact are complex and include building design and materials, severity of secondary earthquake effects like tsunamis or fires and lack of preparedness.