Estimates put the cost of weather-related claims across the UK in 2022 in excess of £1.6bn. It was an unusual year, starting with Storm Eunice and ending with the most damaging freeze conditions for over a decade. In between, a long hot summer lead to a strong subsidence year and the first significant losses from UK wildfire.
- Storm Eunice was a difficult storm to forecast, with major disagreement among the weather forecast models from the most respected Agencies. Assessment of the post-event station measurements confirmed it to be the most intense storm to hit the south of England since Kyrill in 2007. And yet actual claims numbers were at the bottom end of estimates based on wind speeds, raising the question of whether properties have over the years become more resilient to very high winds.
- The long hot summer looked set to make 2022 a record year for subsidence claims. Ranked the driest since 1976 (Jan to Aug rainfall across SE England) in fact claims numbers at 23,000 were less than half those recorded in the peak year of 2003. Very heavy rainfall brought the dry spell to an abrupt end which may have had an influence on the relatively low subsidence numbers
- The December freeze was unusual in being modest in its scale meteorologically and yet leading to the largest insurance losses from burst pipe claims for over a decade. The last major freeze event, in November 2010, lasted a month and lead to insurance losses of around £1.4bn, according to the ABI. Even the Beast from the East in 2018 was shorter and not as cold. By comparison the 2022 event was not as severe as 2018, lasting only a few days. And yet insurance losses look to have been a staggering £1bn. It certainly looks as though the rise in energy costs had an impact, forcing householders to turn down their thermostats.
The industry needs to learn the lessons from 2022 in improving its operational readiness. Climate change will continue to bring more extreme weather.
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