Thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes
Localised but extremely destructive
Losses from thunderstorms are rising
Losses from severe thunderstorms in North America in 2017 alone
After hurricanes, thunderstorms are the most significant severe weather risk for the insurance industry in the United States. A tornado or a violent hailstorm occurring in the centre of a major city can result in extremely high losses.
The situation in the areas to the east of the Rocky Mountains is unique in the world; these areas experience violent and frequent heavy storms, very often accompanied by multiple tornadoes.
Even when adjusted for the increase in value, aggregated losses point to an upward trend in recent decades. In 2017 alone, overall losses from severe convective storms in North America totalled more than US$ 25bn. Around three quarters of that total was covered by the insurance sector. In addition to property damage, a considerable amount was paid out for damage to vehicles.
Severe thunderstorms and climate change
Scientific studies are showing that the trend towards rising losses from severe thunderstorms in North America is related to changes in meteorological parameters, in particular to increased atmospheric temperatures and humidity.
It therefore seems highly probable that the increase in (value-adjusted) losses from severe thunderstorms is linked to climate change.
Normalised losses from heavy thunderstorms in North America are increasing
Just as in North America, normalised losses from thunderstorms have also increased in Europe
The intensity of thunderstorms in certain regions of Europe has also increased in recent years.
Severe thunderstorms can occur virtually anywhere. However, it is possible to identify areas that have a particularly high probability of thunderstorms and, as a result, a high probability of loss. In these regions, the loss potential can often run into the billions.
In Europe, as in North America, there are scientific studies to suggest that loss potential, in particular from thunderstorm-related hailstorms, is changing in parts of the region, and not only as a result of increasing assets and rising repair costs; the probabilities relating to the frequency and intensity of thunderstorms are also changing. As in America, climate change could also be a factor given that higher temperatures lead to a more humid atmosphere.
Buildings and infrastructure are particularly prone to losses from violent hailstorms. Loss prevention measures are essential given the pattern of growing losses.