October 6th, 2009

Impact and Implications of Swiss Hailstorms in July 2009: Historical Hail Events

Posted at 11:59 AM ET

Severe hailstorms have become a regular occurrence during the summer months in Switzerland over the last few years, mostly in areas to the north of the Alps. Several other significant hail losses have been recorded in the country over the last ten years. According to Munich Re, a severe hailstorm in June 2002 badly hit the cantons of Aargau and Zurich. The cantons of Thurgau, St. Gallen and Lucerne were also affected and Munich Re said the hailstorms triggered economic losses of CHF335 million, of which CHF260 million were insured.

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Hailstorms in July 2004 also caused significant damage in Switzerland and triggered insurance claims worth CHF140 million. Zurich was particularly badly hit during the 2004 storms. Modeled scenarios show how vulnerable Zurich is to the hail peril, with potential motor damage losses of more than CHF300 million around the city.

In June and July 2007, meanwhile, several hailstorms and floods caused substantial insured losses. For the June event, a thunderstorm moved from Lake Geneva through the Swiss Plateau to Lake Constance, causing significant damage in many places. The storm brought heavy rainfall, large hail, strong winds and numerous lightning strikes to parts of Switzerland, particularly the cantons of Berne, Fribourg and Aargau. According to Munich Re, the storms caused insured losses of CHF115 million, although hail damage only made up part of this figure.

In July 2007, severe hailstorms caused significant building damage in the Bernese Highland and the southern foot of the Jura Mountains. The region of Interlaken was worst affected. The Bernese Building Insurance (GVB) said around 6,000 buildings were damaged at a loss of more than CHF35 million. On the same day, a second thunderstorm cell caused damage at the southern foot of the Jura in the area of Biel. The GVB said about 2,000 buildings were damaged, triggering losses of around CHF5 million.

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Guy Carpenter’s Instrat® department provides CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email CAT.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Instrat also provides RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email RISK.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

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