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2022 US Natural Disasters Cause $260 Billion in Damage

Hurricane Ian has been the single largest loss-causing event of 2022 so far.

December 20, 2022

A recent study published by Swiss Re Institute has found that natural disasters in America have led to an estimated US$260 billion in damage so far this year. Of those losses, $115 billion were insured, which is 42% higher than the 10-year average of $81 billion in insured losses.

Hurricane Ian has been the single largest loss-causing event of the year to date, with an estimated insured loss of $50–65 billion.

The report attributes the year-by-year increase in damages to multiple factors, ranging from climate change and gas emissions to poor development planning and a lack of preventative measures.

“Extreme weather events have led to high insured losses in 2022, underpinning a risk on the rise and unfolding on every continent,” said Martin Bertogg, head of catastrophe perils at Swiss Re, in the report. “Urban development, wealth accumulation in disaster-prone areas, inflation, and climate change are key factors at play, turning extreme weather into ever-rising natural catastrophe losses. When Hurricane Andrew struck 30 years ago, a $20 billion loss event had never occurred before—now there have been seven such hurricanes in just the past six years.”

In Florida, the issue continues to develop due to residents continuously fueling waterfront developments. The state has seen considerable waterfront population growth in recent years, despite being especially vulnerable to rising sea levels, warmer temperatures, and the more powerful storms they cause.

This problem for coastal areas could become worse as glaciers continue to melt and climate change is not dealt with as effectively as needed. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, by the end of this century, climate change will increase the size of U.S. areas with a high flood risk by 55% along U.S. coastlines.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the damage that forest fires and droughts have caused to residential and commercial buildings alike. A recent report from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service have nearly doubled their combined spending on wildfire management over the last 10 years.

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