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Bushfires, North America storms contribute to first-half perils bill

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Last summer’s devastating Australian bushfire season and severe weather events in North America led to about $US68 billion ($96 billion) in overall natural disaster losses for the first-half of the year, according to Munich Re.

Around $US27 billion ($38 billion) of the losses were insured with about 82% of it related to mostly thunderstorms in the US and Canada.

While the first-half total loss figures are slightly lower than the 30-year average of $US74 billion ($104 billion), Munich Re says more action is needed to address the mitigation gap and climate change dangers.

“Severe thunderstorms in North America dominate the loss figures,” Board of Management Member Torsten Jeworrek said. “This demonstrates the need to strengthen building resilience to mitigate losses.

“This is especially relevant because climate change is likely to play a role in increasing the thunderstorm risk in North America in the long term.

“The world finally needs to take vigorous action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent losses and ensure we are not taken unawares by the consequences of climate change, as we were with the current coronavirus pandemic.”

Thunderstorms in North America resulted in economic losses of $US27 billion, including $20 billion ($28 billion) that was borne by the insurance sector. A storm-tornado event that hit Mississippi in April was the costliest insured event at $US2.6 billion ($3.7 billion).

Munich Re says the bushfires in Australia led to record losses of $US2 billion ($2.8 billion), with $US1.6 billion ($2.3 billion) of it absorbed by insurers.

It says a number of studies suggest that climate change is making bushfires in Australia more likely in the long term.