Skip to main content
Opens in a new tab External site
U.S. Economic Loss Escalates as Record Wildfires Raged in September, According to Aon Catastrophe Report
Storms Sally and Beta added to human and financial loss from natural hazard events

CHICAGO, Oct. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, today launched the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during September 2020.

The report reveals that significant wildfires continued to burn across parts of the United States throughout September, killing at least 43 people. In 2020 to date, the United States has reported 22 fires with at least 100,000 acres (40,468 hectares) burned; a record since the statistic was first tracked in 1997. In California alone, five of the state's six largest fire events since 1932 were recorded in August and September, along with five of the state's top 20 most destructive fires on record. Total direct economic costs from the fires across California, Oregon and Washington were likely to reach well into the billions of dollars, resulting in a multi-billion-dollar payout for insurers.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Sally came ashore near Gulf Shores, Alabama, on September 16 as a Category 2 storm. At least eight fatalities and several injuries were reported. Total economic losses were estimated beyond $5 billion, while public and private insurance losses exceeded $2.5 billion.

Tropical Storm Beta made landfall along the southern end of the Matagorda Peninsula near Port O'Connor, Texas, on September 21, bringing heavy rainfall and flash flooding to coastal Texas and Louisiana. One of the top five wettest three-day rainfall totals on record in Houston was recorded, along with major flooding elsewhere in Harris County, Texas. Total economic losses were estimated to exceed $100 million.

Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist on the Impact Forecasting team at Aon, said: "The third quarter is historically the costliest of the year given the peak of tropical cyclone season in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean Basins. While September did result in notable storm landfalls in the United States, Belize, South Korea, and Portugal, the re-emergence of the wildfire peril captured a significant number of headlines. Historic fires from the perspective of structures lost and acres burned left a lasting impact in the Western United States. The wildfires, which were amplified by hot and dry weather in combination with abundant available fuel, ensured a record sixth consecutive multi-billion-dollar payout year for global insurers with this peril. This comes as the industry continues to put more focus on the increased annual costs arising from secondary perils."

Further natural hazard events to have occurred in September include:

  • Seasonal monsoon flooding persisted in China, as officials noted that flooding in some parts of the country was the worst since 1998. According to China's Ministry of Emergency Management, at least 278 people were killed, and more than 1.4 million houses were damaged or destroyed since the arrival of Mei-yu rains in China this year. Total combined economic losses were likely to exceed CNY220 billion ($32 billion).
  • Medicane Ianos brought rough seas, damaging winds and flooding rainfall to western and southern regions of Greece between September 17-20. The most significant impacts occurred in portions of the Ionian Islands and Thessaly. Economic impacts were expected to exceed $100 million.
  • Hurricane Nana made landfall along the coast of Belize on September 3, bringing flooding rains to portions of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico. Notable crop damage occurred in Belize, and total combined economic losses were estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.
  • Typhoon Maysak made landfall in South Korea on September 3, causing notable damage to nearly 2,000 facilities and 5,000 hectares (12,500 acres). The storm later affected the eastern parts of North Korea, China and Russia, causing at least 30 additional casualties and damage to 9,200 houses. A few days later, Typhoon Haishen came ashore near the coastal city of Ulsan, South Korea, with 160 kph (100 mph) winds. Around 10,000 combined houses were damaged or destroyed. Economic losses from each of the storms were anticipated to surpass $100 million.
  • Persistent, heavy downpours caused continued flooding in Sudan, with Blue Nile state the hardest-hit. According to the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and governmental agencies, there had been at least 120 fatalities since the unprecedented flooding began, and more than 172,000 houses damaged or destroyed.

To view the full Impact Forecasting September 2020 Global Catastrophe Recap report, please follow the link:

Along with the report, users can access current and historical natural catastrophe data and event analysis on Impact Forecasting's Catastrophe Insight website, which is updated bi-monthly as new data become available: 




Notes to editors

  • All dollar references are USD, unless otherwise stated.

About Aon
Aon plc (NYSE: AON) is a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions. Our 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries empower results for clients by using proprietary data and analytics to deliver insights that reduce volatility and improve performance.

Follow Aon on Twitter and LinkedIn  
Stay up to date by visiting the Aon Newsroom and hear from Aon's expert advisors in The One Brief.
Sign up for News Alerts here

Media Contact
Andrew Wragg
+44 (0) 7595 217168

Media Resources

Access international media contacts, the full library of Aon media releases, and a media kit with fact sheet and executive bios, via links below.

Media Contacts
Media Releases
Media Kit
Featured Updates