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2017 was a record-breaking year for natural disasters 2017

After more clement conditions for several years, we will long remember the exceptional series of natural disasters that marked 2017. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, along with other natural disasters around the world, are expected to cost insurers over $130 billion.  

2017 was a record-breaking year for natural disasters 2017

The hurricane season officially ended on 30 November 2017. For a long time to come, entire regions such as the Antilles, Porto Rico and Texas will bear the scars of the visits paid by this series of hurricanes that wreaked unprecedented havoc. 

Hurricane Irma, in particular, remained at category 5 for over three days, with winds reaching an average of 295 km/h for 33 hours. In doing so, it beat the record set by the super-typhoon Haiyan, which swept through the Philippines with the same intensity in 2013, but for only 24 hours.According to the Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM), citing Wikipedia, Harvey and Irma are thought to have caused 90 and 132 deaths respectively, 88 of them in the United States.

Although the figures have not yet been finalised, the CEDIM estimates the damage caused by Harvey on 25 and 26 August 2017 at $58 billion for the state of Texas alone.

  • $19 billion in the residential sector, 
  • $16 billion in the non-residential sector,
  • $18 billion for public buildings and infrastructures, 
  • And $5 billion for durable goods such as vehicles. 

Hundreds of thousands of people were suddenly made homeless. And over 100,000 jobs were lost in the United States in September, especially in the catering sector. The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) ranks Harvey as the ninth most destructive natural disaster since 1900. In 2005, Katrina – third in these rankings behind two earthquakes – caused more than 1,800 deaths and $160 billion worth of destruction. 

The insured portion of losses worldwide soared in 2017, as shown in this table published by the Swiss Re Institute.

On the French side, the Ministry for Overseas Departments declared in late November that the estimated cost of the damage caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in Saint-Martin and Guadeloupe in early September has reached nearly €2 billion.On the French side, the Ministry for Overseas Departments declared in late November that the estimated cost of the damage caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in Saint-Martin and Guadeloupe in early September has reached nearly €2 billion.

  • Irma damaged 95% of buildings and killed 11 people in Saint-Martin on 6 September. 
  • Less than two weeks later, Maria devastated all of Guadeloupe’s banana plantations, which produce the island’s main export crop. 


Specific support scheme for the 2,500 disaster victims of Irma and Maria, implemented by the Guadeloupe & Martinique Regional Banks and Pacifica.Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Antilles and Caribbean region in September. Hurricane Maria was responsible for most of the damage in Guadeloupe and Martinique on 18 and 19 September, with nearly 2,500 claims logged by Pacifica. Responsiveness The Rennes Claims Management Unit, which is responsible for the Antilles, did everything in its power to take the calls of insured disaster victims without delay and guide them through the procedures leading to their compensation. Local presence and support in the fieldFour employees from the Rennes Claims Management Unit and Head Office flew out to the Antilles just a few days after the event to offer their support and expertise in the field, alongside the Regional Banks. Over the following week, they paired up with advisors from the Guadeloupe Regional Bank to prioritise the needs and rapidly organise 65 visits.Their interventions enabled the in situ compensation of nearly half of the customers met, the payment of advances in the most urgent situations, the proposal of in-kind compensation solutions and the appointment of an insurance adjuster to oversee the most complex cases.

In mainland France, since December winter storms of medium importance have followed each other. The two of January (Carmen and especially Eleanor) could induce 200M € * of compensation for the market.Once again this year 2017, forest fires have wreaked havoc in California. The fire named “Thomas”, which started in the Santa Barbara area on 4 December, was still not completely under control on New Year’s Eve. It has burned over 110,000 hectares to ashes and 1,060 buildings – mostly single-family homes – have been reduced to cinders. Two people have died and more than 100,000 people have had to be evacuated, either willingly or by force. It has cost over $170 million to fight this fire.

This region has been suffering from a significant lack of rainfall since last March.

  • In mid-December, Property Claims Services estimated the cost of these claims to insurers at $7.3 billion.
  • Fires killed over 40 people in this state in 2017.

Scientists at the World Resources Institute have observed that the length of the forest fire season has increased by 2.5 months in the last 30 years. 

Unsurprisingly, all of these disasters have sent the accounts of many reinsurers plummeting well into the red. Nevertheless, these operators possess sufficiently large reserves to absorb these costs. Another consequence is that they have decided to increase their rates after several years of excessive reductions. In addition, many Americans should finally make up their mind to take out a flood insurance policy.

After a succession of moderate winter storms (Ana, Bruno, etc.) at the end of 2017 in Metropolitan France, those that followed in the month of January 2018 – Carmen and particularly Eleanor – could require the market to pay out €200 million in compensation.

Source FFALong-term data can be found on the following website: http ://www.sigma-explorer.com 

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