Twenty years ago, while the planet was getting ready for transitioning to year 2000 and trying to solve the Y2K bug, the (re)insurance industry in Europe got caught by surprise by windstorm Lothar. Even today, 1999 remains a historic windstorm year, with catastrophic storms Anatol (December 3), Lothar (December 26) and Martin (December 28) all happening within a period of less than a month.
Lothar tracked across northern France, southern Belgium and central Germany and into Poland; Martin tracked through southern Europe – affecting France, Spain, Switzerland and Italy. Between Lothar and Martin, 140 people were killed, and losses ran over €14.2 billion economic losses, approximately €7.7 billion of which was insured. If the three events happened today, they would cost approximately €20 billion (US$23.3 billion) to the (re)insurance industry.
At the time, I was still living in Geneva with my parents. I remember waking up the day after Christmas and seeing fallen trees in our garden and our telephone line was cut. It was very dramatic and since then, no other windstorm has caused that kind of damage in this region.
In commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of windstorms Anatol, Lothar and Martin, I have asked my colleagues at RMS to share their experience of the storms.Continue reading