SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Adine Deford, Cynthia Dunlop, Harry Trott, Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva

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Winter weather in the U.S. drives insured losses in excess of USD1.5bn, according to Impact Forecasting report

CHICAGO, Feb. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe model development center of excellence at Aon Benfield, today releases the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which reviews the natural disaster perils that occurred worldwide during January 2014. Aon Benfield is the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon plc (NYSE:AON).

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The report reveals that a series of powerful winter storms brought excessive snow and bitter cold to the United States.

No fewer than four separate stretches of winter weather affected United States in January, bringing heavy accumulating snowfall, sleet, freezing rain, ice, gusty winds, and bitterly cold Arctic air to much of the country. The most significant – and costliest – period occurred during the second week of the month, where at least 21 people were killed. More than 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snow fell in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, while freezing rain coated the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The coldest temperatures in two decades then descended into the central and eastern U.S., with at least 20 states recording wind chill values minimally at -30 degrees F (-34 degrees C). Widespread property damage and severe travel delays occurred as a result of the cold and snow. Total direct economic losses were estimated at USD3.0 billion, while insured losses were listed in excess of USD1.4 billion.

The three other stretches combined to kill at least 33 people and caused more than USD500 million in economic damages and insured losses approaching USD200 million. Business interruption losses were elevated due to severely delayed transport and/or closed commerce.

Steve Bowen, Senior Scientist and Meteorologist at Impact Forecasting, said: "The current winter season in the United States has already become the costliest year for the winter weather peril since 2011. With higher-than-average snow totals, ice, and some of the coldest temperatures in nearly two decades affecting much of the country during January, the combination of physical damages and business interruption costs have quickly aggregated into direct economic losses well into the billions of dollars. The elevated losses this year are a reminder to insurers that the risks associated with the winter weather peril remain significant."

Also in January, winter conditions were also prevalent in Asia with torrential rains causing widespread flood damage and dozens of fatalities in parts of Asia and South America. China's Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) reported that nearly USD170 million in economic damages had occurred to agricultural land and crops due to snow and freezing temperatures. In Thailand, at least 63 people died after the coldest air in 30 years arrived descended into the country. An additional 25 cold-related fatalities occurred in India.

Torrential rainfall enhanced by the nearby passage of Tropical Storm Lingling spawned widespread flooding and landslides across the southern Philippines. At least 79 people were left dead or missing. In Indonesia, seasonal rains caused severe flooding and landslides throughout the archipelago, which killed a combined 71 people.

Meanwhile, an active windstorm season continued in Europe during January, with windstorms Anne and Christina each affecting western and northern sections of the continent. Windstorm Christina was the most significant as it brought heavy rains, gusty winds and an elevated tide to the United Kingdom, France and Scandinavia. Economic damages in Ireland alone were estimated at roughly USD405 million.

A magnitude-6.2 struck New Zealand's lower North Island with an epicenter 34 kilometers (21 miles) south-southeast of Palmerston North. Most damage was due to broken windows, cracked walls, fallen chimneys, and fallen indoor contents. The New Zealand Earthquake Commission received at least 2,876 claims with payouts expected to reach the millions of dollars (NZD).

Mount Sinabung continued to erupt throughout January into early February after first beginning in September 2013. The eruptions led to the deaths of 32 people in Indonesia's North Sumatra, where 32,000 residents were forced to evacuate their homes. Total economic losses were listed minimally at IDR1.0 trillion (USD83 million).

The combination of extreme heat, dry conditions and gusty winds led to hundreds of bushfires to burn in multiple Australian states. At least two people were killed. The most significant bushfire was registered in Western Australia's Perth Hills region, where at least 56 homes were destroyed. The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) declared the event a catastrophe and expected payouts to top USD13 million.

Tropical Cyclone Ian tracked through Tonga as a Category 4 storm, killing at least one person. The storm left severe damage to the island chain of Ha'apai, where 75% of all homes (1,130) were impacted.

To view the full Impact Forecasting January 2014 Global Catastrophe Recap report, please follow the link below:

http://bit.ly/1eUQClB

To access the Catastrophe Insight website, please visit:

www.aonbenfield.com/catastropheinsight                                                

About Aon Benfield

Aon Benfield, a division of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), is the world's leading reinsurance intermediary and full-service capital advisor. We empower our clients to better understand, manage and transfer risk through innovative solutions and personalized access to all forms of global reinsurance capital across treaty, facultative and capital markets. As a trusted advocate, we deliver local reach to the world's markets, an unparalleled investment in innovative analytics, including catastrophe management, actuarial and rating agency advisory. Through our professionals' expertise and experience, we advise clients in making optimal capital choices that will empower results and improve operational effectiveness for their business. With more than 80 offices in 50 countries, our worldwide client base has access to the broadest portfolio of integrated capital solutions and services. To learn how Aon Benfield helps empower results, please visit aonbenfield.com.

About Impact Forecasting® LLC

Impact Forecasting is a catastrophe modeling center of excellence whose seismologists, meteorologists, engineers, mathematicians, finance risk management and insurance professionals analyze the financial implications of natural and man-made catastrophes around the world.  Impact Forecasting's experts develop software tools and models that help clients understand risks from hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires and terrorist attacks on property, casualty and crop insurers and reinsurers.  To find out more about Impact Forecasting® LLC, visit www.impactforecasting.com.

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SOURCE Aon Benfield

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