Last decade was the most expensive for natural disasters, over $1 trillion increase, report says

Severe weather such as devastating flooding and powerful hurricanes contributed to why the last decade was the worst on record for economic losses due to natural disasters around the globe, according to a report released Wednesday.

Insurance broker Aon said in its "Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight: 2019 Annual Report" that the period between 2010 and 2019 marked the costliest decade on record, with economic damage reaching some $2.98 trillion, about $1.19 trillion more than the period from 2000 to 2009.

"Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the last decade of natural disasters was the emergence of previously considered 'secondary' perils – such as wildfire, flood, and drought – becoming much more costly and impactful," Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist at Aon’s impact forecasting team, said in a news release.

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The area that was worst hit in the last decade was the Asia-Pacific region, which accounted for 44 percent of the total amount of economic losses, according to the report.

In 2019 one of the greatest disasters was when Typhoon Hagibis struck Japan in October, causing 99 deaths and $15 billion in economic losses.

In 2019 one of the greatest disasters was when Typhoon Hagibis struck Japan in October, causing 99 deaths and $15 billion in economic losses. (NOAA Satellites - Public Affairs)

In 2019, one of the greatest disasters was when Typhoon Hagibis struck Japan in October, causing 99 deaths and $15 billion in economic losses.

In its report, Aon said intense weather events, bigger populations in the path of disasters and greater supply chain disruption in a globalized economy contributed to the sharp rise in overall economic damage.

The runway at Offutt Air Force Base can be seen covered by floodwaters from the Missouri River during flooding in 2019.

The runway at Offutt Air Force Base can be seen covered by floodwaters from the Missouri River during flooding in 2019. (55th Wing Commander/Facebook)

The costliest individual disaster in 2019 was inland flooding, which created losses of $82 billion, while tropical cyclones caused economic losses globally around $68 billion. In the U.S., flooding spawned by the bomb cyclone in the Midwest caused economic losses of over $20 billion, the report noted.

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2019 was the second-hottest year in the agency's 140-year climate record, just behind 2016.

The agency also noted that the world's five warmest years have all occurred since 2015, with nine of the 10 warmest years occurring since 2005.

“Scientific research indicates that climate change will continue to affect all types of weather phenomena and subsequently impact increasingly urbanized areas," Bowen said.

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While Aon said economic and insured losses were lower in 2019 than the previous two years, there were 409 natural catastrophe events totaling $232 billion in losses.

Of those losses in 2019, $71 billion were covered by insurance programs, the report said.