Skip to main content
Opens in a new tab External site
Europe’s Windstorm Ciara (Sabine) becomes the costliest event for the peril since 2018
U.S. severe thunderstorms expected to prompt insured payouts topping USD800 million

CHICAGO, March 10, 2020 – Aon plc (NYSE:AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, today launches the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during February 2020.

The report reveals that Windstorm Ciara – also known locally in some locations as “Sabine” – led to significant impacts across 17 separate European countries. At least 14 people were killed. Major wind-related damage was incurred on property and automobiles. Preliminary public estimates by insurers and industry groups placed the total insured loss at well above EUR1 billion (USD1.1 billion), with a majority occurring in Germany. The total economic loss will be even higher.

Elsewhere, a potent winter storm marked by widespread severe thunderstorms, flooding, and accumulating snow affected the U.S. early in the month. At least 37 confirmed tornadoes touched down, which resulted in fatalities and injuries. Among the hardest-hit areas in terms of physical damage occurred in the Southeast – including Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Flash flood damage was also cited. Total economic losses were estimated at more than USD925 million; insured losses topped USD675 million.

Per the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), the nation faced its sixth insurance catastrophe in five months. A powerful coastal area of low pressure – known as an “East Coast Low” – brought severe thunderstorms, very gusty winds, and some of the heaviest rainfall to the Sydney metro region in 30 years. Storm damage was widespread across numerous communities in New South Wales and Queensland. The ICA preliminarily cited that at least 21,000 claims had been filed and payouts were expected to top AUD100 million (USD67 million).

Michal Lorinc, Catastrophe Analyst for Aon’s Impact Forecasting team, commented: “February was a meteorologically active month for windstorms in Europe, as no fewer than six notable storms traversed western and central sections of the continent. The most significant was Windstorm Ciara (Sabine), which affected 18 nations and became the costliest storm since Friederike in 2018. Insurers have now noted nearly USD3.0 billion in payouts from the 2019/20 season, which is above this century's average for the peril though far smaller than peak years in 1990 and 1999. Despite being manageable for the industry, the elevated losses continue to serve reminder that robust risk management remains imperative and reliable catastrophe modeling solutions can help with those initiatives.”

Other natural hazard events this month include:

  • Heavy seasonal rainfall affected several regions of Indonesia during February, causing damage to approximately 60,000 homes in total. One of the most notable episodes occurred on February 24 and affected East Jakarta.
  • The winter storm that affected northeastern United States tracked into Canada as daily snowfall records for February 26 were recorded in parts of Ontario and Quebec
  • The Office of Risk Management and National Contingencies in Honduras noted that more than 17,700 people were affected by heavy rain and strong winds
  • A magnitude-6.0 earthquake hit the border region of Iran and Turkey on February 23, causing damage to 6,000 structures and 14 fatalities
  • Excessive rainfall in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo led to at least four fatalities and significant flood inundation. States of emergency were declared in the municipalities of Botucatu, Laranjal Paulista, and Taboao da Serra.
  • Two deadly avalanches occurred in Eastern Turkey, killing at least 41 people and injuring 84 others

To view the full Impact Forecasting February 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:

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