Turkey and Syria Earthquakes Drive Nearly Half of Economic Losses from Global Catastrophes in First Half of 2023

During the first quarter of 2023, devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria resulted in nearly half of the estimated $91 billion total economic losses. These earthquakes also marked the deadliest global disaster since 2010 and became the costliest events in the modern histories of both countries. The impact was far-reaching, leading to unprecedented economic losses in the EMEA region, reaching a staggering $111 billion. This figure surpassed the previous record set in 1990, which stood at $71 billion.

The earthquakes brought attention to the critical importance of enforcing and regulating modern building codes to prevent material losses and casualties. Despite having relatively strict and up-to-date building codes in Turkey, the structural integrity and performance of buildings varied in the affected areas. Many newly constructed multi-story residential buildings suffered total collapses, highlighting the need for stringent enforcement of building regulations.

Michal Lörinc, head of Catastrophe Insight at Aon, emphasized the significance of resilience and risk mitigation in the face of such catastrophes. He pointed out that only about 27 percent of economic losses during that year were insured, underscoring the importance of closing the global protection gap and enhancing risk mitigation strategies. Enforcing building codes, as exemplified by the Turkey and Syria earthquakes, remains a crucial aspect of building resilience in communities worldwide.

From an insurance perspective, the earthquake event ranked as the costliest. However, severe convective storm (SCS) activity in the United States dominated global losses during the same period. The first half of 2023 saw U.S. SCS activity causing at least 13 individual billion-dollar events, resulting in a total preliminary insured loss of $35 billion. This set a new record for the first half of the year.

As interconnected risks persist, the focus remains on scaling risk mitigation efforts and aiding organizations in making informed decisions to enhance global resilience and protect lives across the world.

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