Summary Numbers for Thunderstorm/Tornado DamageSevere thunderstorms in the U.S., which for the purpose of insurance industry reporting include tornadoes but not hurricanes, led to $27.7 billion in economic losses during 2012, with insured losses totaling $14.9 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute, which cites data provided by Munich Re and NatCatSERVICE.
During 2011, economic losses from U.S. thunderstorms totaled a record $46.5 billion, with insurers seeing a record $25.8 billion in losses. During 2010, thunderstorms and tornadoes led to $13.2 billion in economic losses and $9.5 billion in insured losses.
According to a detailed study on tornado damage by Lloyd's earlier this year, the U.S. has more tornadoes than any other country. "Every year an average of 1200 tornadoes kill up to 60 people, injure 1,500 and cause at least $400m in economic damage in the US." Major tornado events during the record year of 2011 included an outbreak in late April mainly across six Southern states, including 358 tornadoes, with 348 people killed. In Tuscaloosa County, Ala., 64 people died and 1,500 were injured from a tornado on April 27, 2011. A tornado striking Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011 killed 162 people and injured 1,100, and was "the single biggest insurance event in Missouri history," according to an Insurance Institute spokesman.
Lloyd's said in its report that "As the process of urbanization continues, the chances of a tornado hitting a densely populated area increase. This is already being shown in the increase in the number of billion dollar events. The rising capacity for potential losses, such as those seen in 2011, is leading to greater take up of tornado models." While losses from events like the superstorm Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast are staggering, according to Lloyd's, "annual aggregate losses from severe thunderstorms including tornadoes have, on average, accounted for more than half of all catastrophe losses since 1990."