Natural Disaster Loss Recap: How 2015 Compares

Finding the motivation to update your disaster plan every year can be difficult. Especially if your business seems to be located in an oasis of calm that rarely experiences disasters.

No matter where you operate, however, ongoing disaster planning is critical. And a quick recap of 2015 catastrophes and insurance losses will illustrate why.

The U.S. Tops the Charts

With more than 1,000 recorded disasters worldwide, 2015 was a record-breaking year.1 If that sounds like a lot, it is. The high number is partially due to advancing technology and communications, but the United Nations has also noted that extreme weather and weather-related disasters are almost a daily occurrence around the world today, and the trend shows no signs of letting up.2

When it comes to the largest insured losses globally from natural disasters in 2015, U.S. storms and wildfires accounted for four of the top-5 spots.3 In fact, in just the first half of 2015, U.S. insured losses due to natural disasters were already $1.4 billion over the annual average of 2000 – 2014.4 Things didn’t exactly slow down throughout most of the year, which ended with unseasonably strong tornadoes and flooding in Texas.5

2015’s Most Costly Insured Losses: The Top 3

It’s striking to note that the U.S. not only experienced four of the top five largest natural catastrophes in the U.S., but that it also confronted a total of 10 weather events with losses exceeding $1 billion. Here are the top three.6

3) Severe storms in the Midwest and the Ohio Valley: $1.2 billion 
In early April, storms with high winds and large hail wreaked havoc across 16 states and especially Missouri and Illinois.7

2) Texas and Oklahoma flooding and severe weather: $1.4 billion 
At the end of May, Texas and Oklahoma were stuck under a slow-moving storm that caused heavy flooding. Other states also suffered damage related to the storm.8 

1) Central and Eastern winter storm and cold wave: $2.1 billion 
In mid February, 19 states across the central, eastern and northeastern United States were hit by a severe winter storm, with Boston alone experiencing more than $1 billion in losses.9

Don’t Forget about Your Supply Chain

The three examples above are a great reminder why it’s important to make sure your business is always ready for the types of disasters your region is most likely to face. Once you’ve established or updated your disaster recovery plan, however, it doesn’t mean you can breathe easy. If your business relies heavily on suppliers, it’s also critical to ask yourself how a disaster in their area might impact your business and plan accordingly.

Calm or Chaos?

It’s far too early to tell what 2016 will bring to most states, but if this year is anything like recent years, it’s a good bet that at the very least many areas across the country will be hit by destructive storms. If you experienced any of 2015’s crazy weather, then you understand the important of preparedness to keeping your business afloat (sometimes literally) in the midst of chaos. Either way, developing a comprehensive disaster plan will help you rest easier knowing you’re ready for the worst. 

1 2015 Natural Catastrophes, Insurance Information Institute, January 2016.
2 UN: Weather-Related Disasters Occur Almost Daily, The Huffington Post, November 23, 2015.
3 2015 Natural Catastrophes.
4 First Half 2015 Natural Catastrophes, Insurance Information Institute, July 2015.
5 Extreme weather costs US over $10 billion for eighth consecutive year,, January 14, 2016.
6 2015 Natural Catastrophes.
7, 8, 9 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Table of Events, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Janauary 2016.