Toyota Motor Corporation expects to lose 80,000 units of production after shutting down nearly all of its assembly plants in Japan as a result of the Kumamoto Earthquake. The shutdowns occurred after disruption to two of its suppliers, Aisin Seiki, which produces automotive components and Renesas Electronics, a manufacturer of automotive microchips (1). Aisin Seiki said production at two plants that make engine and auto parts, semiconductors and other components have been stopped since April 14. Renesas’s plant was also shut down (2).
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The catastrophe modeling firm RMS estimated the economic loss for property risks to be between USD2.5 billion and USD3.5 billion (1). This estimate includes only residential, commercial, and industrial property and contents. Catastrophe modeling firm AIR estimated the insured loss to be between USD1.7 billion and USD2.9 billion for property risks (2). Both catastrophe modeling firms’ estimates exclude infrastructure, business interruption and contingent business interruption.
Earthquake Coverage in Japan, Part II: Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Earthquake Fire Expense Insurance
The other source of residential earthquake insurance is through a limited number of cooperative insurers. As opposed to residential earthquake insurance under the government’s program, cooperative earthquake insurance is entirely run and managed by each individual cooperative insurer that writes the class, with no governmental support. The original policy terms tend to be somewhat similar in basic design to those of the government’s program backed policies, but reinsurance arrangements are entirely at the discretion of the individual cooperatives. Almost all the cooperatives writing this class purchase non-proportional reinsurance from the international reinsurance market and, in certain cases, also access the capital markets for protection via catastrophe bond issuance.
Japan is known for its earthquake potential; and like many other earthquake-prone countries, the government participates in insuring earthquake risk. For houses and residential buildings there are two major sources of earthquake insurance. One is via commercial non-life insurance companies with support from the government and the other is via cooperative insurers. For all buildings and man-made structures other than houses and residential buildings, earthquake insurance is available from commercial non-life insurance companies, albeit on a strictly controlled basis.
The Ryukyu Trench is situated southeast of Kyushu where the Philippine Sea plate begins its subduction beneath Japan. While earthquakes have occurred several hundred kilometers northwest of the Ryukyu Trench, most earthquakes are at significant depths along this subduction zone. Thirteen magnitude 5-plus earthquakes have occurred at shallow depths of less than 50 kilometers (31.1 miles) within 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) of the Kumamoto earthquake over the past century, according to the USGS. In addition to the two events in April, a shallow magnitude 6.6 earthquake occurred in 2005 off the north coast of Kyushu. Two other events occurred in 1975 that were of magnitude 5.8 and 6.1 at distances of 40 kilometers (24.9 miles) and 65 kilometers (40.4 miles) to the northwest. The graphic below from the USGS illustrates the depth of the Ryukyu Trench at 20 kilometer (12.4 miles) increments in orange. The depth of the trench beneath Kumamoto city is roughly 140 plus kilometers (87.0 miles).
Recent rainfall and cooler temperatures have helped to reduce spread of the wildfire that recently rendered devastating impacts to Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Nevertheless, the fire continues to grow outside the city and has now claimed 2,020 square kilometers (790 square miles), according to media reports. A general trend of cooler temperatures is expected through this week, before another warming trend next weekend.
Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada has suffered widespread and severe impacts as a result of wildfire activity. Media reports indicate that over 80,000 people have been evacuated. No serious injuries or deaths have been reported, however, the fire has destroyed homes in several neighborhoods. Our first thoughts and concerns are with those directly affected by this event.
Fiscal constraints are increasing across many developed and emerging economies amid growing catastrophic loss potential brought on by the geopolitical climate, demographic trends and global climate change. As a result, heads of government, international trade organizations and private sector risk bearers are increasing their calls to reexamine the roles and responsibilities of society to better manage these complicated risks.
In southeast Texas, a significant flood event has affected the Greater Houston Metro area as well as areas north and west. Heavy and persistent rainfall has produced catastrophic flooding, enabled by a slow-moving upper low and frontal boundary, together with available moisture. Record daily rainfall amounts were observed at Houston International Airport, with amounts of 15 to 18 inches reported north and west of the Houston area. National Weather Service flood and flash flood watches and warnings remain active for areas of the Southern Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley and some additional rainfall is expected with thunderstorms. Media reports indicate at least seven fatalities and first responders expect this number to rise. Reports indicate that over 1,000 homes have been inundated. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster in nine counties, enabling state resources to be used to respond to the emergency, according to media reports. It will take some time to fully assess the scope and severity of impacts of this event and our thoughts are with those lost and directly affected by this event.