Hong Kong's losses from Typhoon Mangkhut to be bigger than Typhoon Hato

Damaged windows of the One HarbourFront office tower are seen after Super Typhoon Mangkhut hit Hong Kong, China, on Sept 18, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - The overall economic impact of Typhoon Mangkhut, the most intense storm to hit Hong Kong since records began, is expected to be "significantly" higher than that caused by Typhoon Hato last year.

As the city recovers from Mangkhut, at least one reinsurer said the damage this year could be 10 to 15 per cent more than the overall economic impact of a typical T8 signal warning typhoon on Hong Kong's gross domestic product (GDP), which is HK$4.29 billion (S$750 million) per day.

Mr Dylan Bryant, head of north Asia at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions said: "Data from Hong Kong Federation of Insurers on Hato claims shows 2,000 total claims of HK$655.7 million (property and business) and HK$202.2 million (construction). This was data collected from 45 insurers representing 86 per cent of market share."

As claims flow in, Mr Bryant said the final figure will vary by industry.

But he noted that the total amount would be higher based on the strength of Mangkhut - a T10, the highest on the city's typhoon alert scale - and also the number of days businesses had to cease operations.

"As an example, if you consider the fact that Macau's casino revenue from last year was HK$217 billion, shutting the casinos for the first time over the last two days already translate into significant losses in the millions for the gaming and leisure industry in Macau," Mr Bryant added.

The silver lining, noted Mr Neil Thomas, who is head of claims of Asia at Willis Towers Watson, is that companies which experienced big losses from last year's Typhoon Hato are now more prepared in mitigating their potential losses to Mangkhut.

"We have worked closely with our clients to help them bolster their risk management and achieve a more resilient outcome this time from this natural catastrophe," he said.

Typhoon Mangkhut had triggered the city's highest hurricane typhoon alert on Sunday and left a trail of damage and debris, with schools shut over the past two days.

In an update early on Wednesday (Sept 19), the government said most major roads had been cleared of debris but added that more time is needed to move away fallen trees on some, such as San Sham Road and Castle Peak Road.

Most bus and ferry services are available while all train services have resumed.

Last year, Typhoon Hato resulted in US$1.107 billion (S$1.5 billion) worth of insured losses, paid out in total across China, Vietnam and Hong Kong, Swiss Re said.

On average, over the last 10 years, only about 30 per cent of catastrophe losses were covered by insurance, it noted.

That leaves about 70 per cent of catastrophe losses or US$1.3 trillion, borne by individuals, firms and governments.

In Asia-Pacific and Oceania, total economic losses from natural disasters and man-made catastrophes were US$34.5 billion while the insured losses came up to US$7.1 billion.

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