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Global Economy

Billions in damage from storms

Fallen trees, numerous accidents, broken lines or damaged buildings: According to experts, the destruction in Germany caused by the violent storms of the past few days is likely to cost the insurance industry billions. The insured damage could amount to a total of 1.6 billion euros, as announced by the insurance broker Aon in Hamburg. The management consultancy Meyerthole Siems Kohlruss (MSK), which specializes in actuarial mathematics, estimates the amount of damage caused by "Zeynep" and "Ylenia" alone at more than 1.4 billion euros.

half the storm damage of an average year

"We assume that 'Ylena' and 'Zeynep' are among the most damaging storms in Germany," said Aon Germany boss Jan-Oliver Thofern. The storms caused considerable destruction, particularly in central and northern Germany. According to Aon estimates, the first storm "Ylenia" accounted for around 500 million euros of the total damage, one billion euros for hurricane "Zeynep" and 100 million euros for "Antonia".

This corresponds to around half of the total insured storm damage in an average full year. But it could have been even worse: "The damage would have been even greater if the trees had already had leaves, which would have caused even more trees to fall due to the sail effect," says Thofern.

Most intense storm since "Kyrill"

"Zeynep" alone caused insured damage of more than 900 million euros in Germany, MSK announced on Saturday. It was the most intense storm since "Kyrill" in 2007. The company had previously estimated the insured damage from the previous storm "Ylenia" at 500 million euros.

Insured damage is only damage that is ultimately covered by an insurer. The overall damage caused by storms and other natural catastrophes is generally higher, sometimes quite significantly. MSK's estimates are not based on damage reports from insurance customers, but on the calculations of a forecast model called "Storm Chaser". The company operates numerous data pools, which the management consultancy uses to evaluate existing damage data and create forecasts. The basis is the statistics of the participating insurance companies.

In contrast to "Kyrill", "Zeynep" hardly hit the southern half of Germany. South of a line from Saarbrücken to Nuremberg, the effects are minor, as the management consultancy said. "Kyrill" had caused much higher insured losses, in today's values it was more than three billion euros, according to MSK.

Calm down tonight

The three storms had caused some devastation in the northwest and west in the past few days. Ways to clear fallen trees and damaged overhead lines, for example, were temporarily impassable on more than 6,000 kilometers of the rail network since the start of the series of storms on Wednesday evening.

The fire brigades in the regions counted thousands of operations – mostly because of fallen trees, objects flying around or damaged buildings. In North Rhine-Westphalia alone, the emergency services deployed more than 12,000 times by Saturday noon. For the first time since 2013, there was a very severe storm surge in Hamburg with more than 3.5 meters above the mean high water level. In Bremen, a 55-meter construction crane fell into an office building that was still under construction.

A great danger came from trees, as Adrian Leyser from the German Weather Service (DWD) explained. Trees already affected by previous storms and standing in heavily softened ground could easily fall over. In Bad Zwischenahn (Lower Saxony), a spruce tree around nine meters high fell on a clinic building. According to the DWD forecast, the weather should calm down significantly from tonight. The wind will remain an issue throughout the week. "However, that will be a completely different house number than what we are experiencing these days," said a meteorologist.

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