Thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes
Localised but extremely destructive
Losses from thunderstorms are rising
Some 90 people were killed
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.
Severe thunderstorms and climate change
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, it has been demonstrated that severe thunderstorm hazards — in this case large hailstones and strong gusts — have increased in frequency in some regions, thereby contributing to rising loss potential. This is in addition to increased losses as a result of higher asset values and repair costs.
As increasing moisture levels have been demonstrated to be the main driver, the fact that higher ocean temperatures and evaporation rates lead to a more humid atmosphere indicates that climate change is a contributing factor.
Buildings and infrastructure are particularly prone to losses from violent hailstorms. Loss prevention measures are essential given the pattern of growing losses.