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Japan Quake May Cost Insurers $35 Billion

Yup. That’s billion with a b. Even in debt – Japan will have to use the money to rebuild themselves which will only put them in a bigger debt.

Japan’s devastating earthquake is expected to cause insured property losses of about $35 billion, a figure that makes the catastrophe one of the costliest ever for the insurance industry.

Insured property losses from the quake with the magnitude of 8.9 in the Richter scale could be in the range of $15 billion and $35 billion dollars (yen 1.2- 2.8 trillion), according to the estimates published by Boston-based catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide on its website.

The insurance cost of the quake is nearly up to the entire worldwide catastrophe loss for the global insurance industry in 2010 and could result in higher prices in the insurance market after years of declines, AIR Worldwide said.

AIR said the figure is a preliminary loss estimate and does not account for the effects of tsunami.

A separate estimate by catastrophe risk modeling firm Eqecat said in a release that last week’s earthquake had caused insured losses of between $12-25 billion. Eqecat’s estimate includes the earthquake, tsunami and a series of fires.

The discrepancy in figures by two firms is mainly due to the difficulty in assessing the disaster.

“Given the enormity of the 9.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan, it is still in the very early aftermath of the event,” senior vice president of research and modeling at AIR Worldwide Jayanta Guin said.

According to AIR, earthquake insurance penetration in Japan is relatively low, in the range of 14-17 per cent nationwide.

About 70 per cent of all residential construction is estimated to be of wood and about 25 per cent concrete.

Commercial construction consists of more than 50 per cent concrete and less than 10 per cent wood.

AIR’s insured loss estimates reflect insured physical damage to property (residential, commercial/industrial and agriculture) in both structures and their contents, resulting from quake and fire as well as direct business interruption losses.

The loss estimates do not include damage to automobiles, uninsured properties and infrastructure.

The company used a variety of scenarios including the magnitude of tremors in the range of 8.9- 9.1 on Richter scale, a depth of between 15 kilometers and 30 kilometers and a rupture width of 100 kilometers to 150 kilometers.

Natural disasters have dented Japan’s economy in the past. But this time, the severity and magnitude is hard to comprehend.

The aftershocks of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan will be felt in industries in other parts of Asia and Europe.

The world’s third-largest economy will face huge losses in the automobile, electronics and machinery production sectors.

According to Barclays Capital Research, the four prefectures most heavily affected by the Tohoku earthquake are Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki. This region accounts for about 6-7 per cent of the overall Japanese economy.

Read more on Rediff

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Written by lordsinsurancelog

March 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Posted in Insurance News