MADISON, Wis. (4/1/11)--The recent tsunami and earthquake in Japan proves that disasters can strike quickly and without warning--an unfortunate element of surprise that U.S. credit unions know well. of. In 2010, CUNA Mutual Group paid out an estimated $1.8 million in claims to credit unions as a result of natural disasters, representing an estimated 113 claims.
On a worldwide basis, the disaster in Japan appears to be part of calamitous trend. In 2010, losses from catastrophes increased by 59% for insurers from the previous year, according to a Swiss Re report (PropertyCasualty360
March 30). Insurance claims from 304 catastrophe events in 2010 cost the overall property and casualty insurance industry in excess of $43 billion, compared with $27 billion in 2009, according to the Zurich, Switzerland-based insurer. However, the overall economic loss from catastrophes was much worse at $218 billion. Catastrophes also claimed 304,000 lives. Natural catastrophes accounted for most of costs to insurers--about $40 billion--Swiss Re said. By comparison, man-made disasters cost about $3 billion. Swiss Re said 2010 was the seventh costliest year for insurers. The costliest? The year of Hurricane Katrina--2005--when catastrophe losses surpassed $117 billion. Earthquakes accounted for the most losses in 2010. The earthquake in Chile cost insurers $8 billion and claimed 562 lives, while New Zealand’s earthquake cost insurers $4 billion with no fatalities. The massive Tohoku earthquake that struck Sendai, Japan, on March 11 is expected to trigger significant insured losses, Swiss Re notes. CUNA Mutual noted that its numbers are based on claims from its property and casualty customers, about 80% of credit unions. The company paid $26,000 in disaster claims so far in 2011. Catastrophe modelers have given insured loss estimates from the event as high as $30 billion. Hurricane season begins June 1, and CUNA Mutual is prepared for what could be another active hurricane season, said Phil Tschudy, CUNA Mutual media relations manager. To help credit unions prepare for a potential disaster, CUNA Mutual Group’s next Credit Union Protection Webinar, set for 10 a.m. CT April 13, will focus on disaster preparedness. The session is part of the webinar series developed exclusively for the insurer’s Credit Union Bond policyholders, said Brad Mundine, senior manager of credit union protection risk management at CUNA Mutual.