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Climate Crisis

This guide provides information, resources, and data on the climate crisis

Global Losses from Natural Disasters in 2023

​​​​​Worldwide, natural disasters in 2023 resulted in losses of around US$ 250bn (previous year US$ 250bn), with insured losses of US$ 95bn (previous year US$ 125bn). Overall losses tally with the five-year average, while insured losses were slightly below the average figure of US$ 105bn. Unlike in previous years, there were no mega-disasters in industrialised countries that drove losses up (such as Hurricane Ian in 2022, which caused overall losses of US$ 100bn and insured losses of US$ 60bn).

Instead, the loss statistics were characterised by the large number of severe regional storms. Such high thunderstorm losses have never been recorded before in the USA or in Europe: assets worth around US$ 66bn were destroyed in North America, of which US$ 50bn was insured, while in Europe the figure was US$ 10bn (€9.1bn), of which US$ 8bn (€7.3bn) was insured. A large body of scientific research indicates that climate change favours severe weather with heavy hailstorms. Similarly, loss statistics from thunderstorms in North America and other regions are trending upwards.

The number of deaths caused by natural disasters rose to 74,000 in 2023, well above the annual average of the last five years (10,000). After years of relative calm, a series of devastating earthquakes led to humanitarian disasters. Around 63,000 people (85% of the year’s total fatalities) lost their lives as a result of such geophysical hazards in 2023 – more than at any time since 2010. In contrast, economic losses from natural disasters were dominated by severe storms: 76% of overall losses were weather-related, while 24% had geophysical causes.  

  • Overall losses from natural disasters in 2023: US$ 250bn; more than 74,000 fatalities
  • Insured global losses of US$ 95bn close to five-year average (US$ 105bn) and above the ten-year average (US$ 90bn)
  • Earthquake in Turkey and Syria was the year’s most devastating humanitarian disaster
  • Thunderstorms in North America and Europe more destructive than ever before: overall losses of US$ 76bn; insured losses US$ 58bn
  • 2023 was the hottest year ever, with a large number of regional records broken

Source: Factsheet Natural Disasters 2023, Munich Re

Costliest Climate Disasters

The series of earthquakes in southeast Turkey and Syria in February was the year’s most destructive natural disaster. The most severe, a 7.8-magnitude tremor, was the strongest quake in Turkey for decades. Some 58,000 people were killed, countless buildings collapsed, and there was significant damage to infrastructure. With overall losses of around US$ 50bn, it was also the year’s costliest natural disaster. Despite the fact that earthquake insurance is mandatory for residential buildings in Turkey (Turkish Catastrophe Insurance Pool, TCIP), insured losses came to just US$ 5.5bn. 

In terms of overall losses, the second-costliest natural disaster was Typhoon Doksuri. In July, the storm brushed the coastline of the Philippines before making landfall at Jinjiang in Fujian province on the Chinese mainland with wind speeds of around 180 km/h. Doksuri was accompanied by extremely heavy rainfall that triggered destructive flooding. In parts of China, 600 mm of rain fell in one day, the heaviest daily rainfall amount ever recorded in the country. Overall losses came to around US$ 25bn, of which only roughly US$ 2bn was insured – an example of the large insurance gap for natural disasters that persists in China.

The rapid intensification of Hurricane Otis on the west coast of Mexico in October was another exceptional event: within twenty-four hours, it developed from a weak tropical storm to a highest-category hurricane. It made landfall directly in the holiday resort of Acapulco and devastated the city. With wind speeds of up to 265 km/h, it was the most severe storm ever to hit Mexico’s Pacific coast. Overall losses are estimated at US$ 12bn, and insured losses at around US$ 4bn due to the high concentration of hotels in the city. It was the year’s third-costliest loss in terms of overall losses.

The five largest natural disasters in 2023
Rankings by Overall Losses

Source: Fact Sheet Natural Disasters 2023, Munich Re