Posts Tagged ‘Chile’
Aidan Pope, Managing Director
Globally, three of the ten most costly natural disaster events in the last 35 years occurred in total or in part in the Latin America/Caribbean region (1). As the region’s population, urbanization and gross domestic product concentration continues to grow, the effects of climate volatility are likely to further increase the impact of natural perils losses on economies that are already struggling. We are just now assessing the losses from Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean. The ultimate costs of these catastrophe event responses causes a strain on public balance sheets and an increase in public debt, ultimately burdening taxpayers.
Here are recent CAT-i stories from the period July to mid-September of 2015.
Chile experienced an 8.3-magnitude earthquake on September 16, followed by dozens of aftershocks, including one at magnitude 7.0 and seven at magnitude 6.0 or above. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake occurred near the coast of Coquimbo, about 46 kilometers (29 miles) west of Illapel at 19:54 local time. A tsunami warning was issued for the entire coast of Chile but has since been lifted. Initial media reports indicate at least 11 fatalities, although emergency crews are still accessing affected areas. The earthquake has forced more than one million people to evacuate from their homes and electrical power was cut off to 240,000 households. Heavy waves following the earthquake caused flooding in coastal towns although most buildings were reported to hold up well. The USGS pager service estimates most probable economic losses between USD 100 million and USD 1 billion. Our first thoughts and concerns are with those directly affected by this event.
An 8.2-magnitude earthquake was reported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) about 40 miles off the northern coast of Chile yesterday evening. More than 60 aftershocks were reported following the initial event, one of which was measured of magnitude 6.2. Shaking was felt as far away as La Paz Bolivia, over 290 miles (470 km) away.
Earthquake insurance coverage in developed and emerging economies varies widely, and earthquake coverage can be low, even in certain established markets. Of all the earthquakes that have caused economic losses over USD1 billion over the last three years, only events in New Zealand and Chile saw the (re)insurance sector contribute more than 25 percent of the overall cost.
Over the last two years, several powerful earthquakes have caused widespread damage, leading to significant losses for (re)insurers. Four out of the five most costly earthquakes on record have occurred since the start of 2010, and all four of these events were located outside the United States.
As Table 1 shows, the three perils of wind, earthquake and flood have caused the heaviest losses to (re)insurers. While hurricanes in the United States have unsurprisingly generated the biggest wind losses, the most expensive earthquakes and floods have a more international flavor. Indeed, the most expensive earthquake loss and flood loss on record occurred last year in Japan and Thailand, respectively. Moreover, both the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami and the Thai floods revealed risks that (re)insurers had not previously considered, with CBI claims - resulting from supply chain failure - accounting for a large share of insured losses. High impact, low frequency events (such as earthquakes and tropical cyclones) and perils that typically are more regular (such as floods) are widespread in several developing markets, raising the prospect of more hidden loss potential.