Are We Prepared for the increase in extreme weather related events & losses?


Whatever name we give to this phenomenon, it is real that weather related risks are on the rise of late and the real question is, are we ready for it? Part of the answer is yes and this article will look at some of the few ways in which different players including the insurance industry can assist in getting this done right, at least within what we can control.

Relevant statistics will put into context what we are talking about. According to the Atlas Magazine, losses from natural disasters amounted to US$17billion by the first half of 2018 globally. Munich Re’s survey states that the year 2017 had US$330billion worth of damages from these events.

The Swiss re Sigma report states that in 2018, extreme weather caused the fourth highest number of insured losses globally. And according to estimates by CoreLogic, California’s wildfire season could cost as much as US$19billion in property losses alone. In 2011 during the global phenomenon La Nina, Botswana received 75% of its annual rainfall average within 3 days causing massive flooding.

Closer to home and perhaps one of the most notable recent events in South Africa is the hail and storm damage that occurred at Sun City where losses are estimated to be running into millions of rands from a phenomenon not known to usually cause damage of this nature and to that extent in the country. One only wonders what other damage the surrounding areas also suffered including those not yet quantified.

This is a trend a lot of industries are utilising for their own good and this will most definitely come in handy in the predictions of future catastrophes and know how best to prepare for them. It is important today more than ever to use and share information amongst different economic stakeholders for a common and good cause.

It will therefore take collaboration of various parties including but not limited to weather scientists, governments, engineers, insurance professionals etc. to come up with solutions to minimise economic, material damage and human fatalities when we are faced with various weather related events.

Working together will allow using historical data to build today, solutions for both today and tomorrow for the benefit of all global stakeholders. Sharing of data becomes of greater importance amongst the various groups that have useful data for this.

These can be fluid as the risk also changes for us to remain relevant to address the evolving problem. This is only possible through the pooling of expertise amongst various groups against the imminent weather phenomena changing patterns.

Every time it hits, extreme weather destroys lives, infrastructure, land, jobs, business, wealth, and agriculture threatening these industries, just to mention a few and costing billions to rebuild and recover. These losses come at a cost to all economy stakeholders in different ways.

Governments, Engineers, contractors, Insurers, Weather scientists and various economic stakeholders are now more than ever called upon to work together against this increasingly common change we have today. This collaboration allows for partnerships, research, and building of infrastructure to address these risks continuously.

Extreme weather events will eventually become risks we can better prepare for and manage these risks and effects on the human and economic losses they lead to.

Written by Garrun Group, Accounts Executive, Bukhosi Khumalo
Published in the Cover Magazine February 2019 edition