Back To Top

Quake may cost insurers $34 billion; tsunami toll yet to come

(Bloomberg) -- Japanese insurers and global reinsurance companies that backstop their policies may face claims of as much as 2.8 trillion yen ($34 billion) tied to last week’s earthquake, AIR Worldwide said.

The top-of-range preliminary estimate, which AIR disclosed yesterday in a statement, doesn’t include damage caused by the tsunami that followed the March 11 temblor. AIR is working to quantify insured losses related to the surge of water that swept into northeast prefectures including Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Iwate, said Jayanta Guin, senior vice president of research and modeling.

“We estimate that there is about $24 billion of insured property from the coast to three kilometers inland, just in those four prefectures,” Guin said in a telephone interview. “We would like to complete our analysis of the tsunami piece because that’s going to be a very significant part.”

Munich Re, Swiss Reinsurance Co. and smaller reinsurers face what may be record catastrophe losses worldwide in the first quarter, according to Standard & Poor’s. The carriers will add their shares of the losses in Japan to costs from U.S. winter storms, Middle East unrest and last month’s earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“Near-term profitability is likely to remain under pressure, as claims for this event are likely to set new records,” Cathy Seifert, an equity analyst at S&P, said in a March 11 research note. “S&P remains concerned that some smaller reinsurers may suffer outsized losses relative to their capital positions.”

In a March 13, 2011 photo provided by Navy Visual News Service, An aerial view of tsunami damage in an area north of Sendai, Japan, taken from a U.S. Navy helicopter assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. The Ronald Reagan is off the coast of Japan rendering humanitarian assistance following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. (AP-Yonhap News)
In a March 13, 2011 photo provided by Navy Visual News Service, An aerial view of tsunami damage in an area north of Sendai, Japan, taken from a U.S. Navy helicopter assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. The Ronald Reagan is off the coast of Japan rendering humanitarian assistance following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. (AP-Yonhap News)


Northridge, California

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Sendai, a city of 1 million north of Tokyo, probably will cause insured losses of at least 1.2 trillion yen, according to the low end of AIR’s estimate range. The costliest temblor before that was the 1994 quake that shook Northridge, California and caused $16 billion in industry losses, Guin said.

Japan’s most destructive earthquake until last week struck Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto in 1995 and cost insurers about $3 billion, not accounting for inflation. The quake caused $100 billion in economic losses, much higher than the amount covered by insurers because infrastructure such as roads and bridges rarely were covered due to the high cost of insurance in earthquake-prone areas.

AIR’s estimate doesn’t include losses borne by uninsured property owners and the Japanese government’s homeowner reinsurance program. Insurance policies covering commercial property in Japan typically provide limits that are “much smaller” than actual value, Guin said.

‘True Economic Losses’

“In Japan, the insurance penetration isn’t very high,” Guin said. “Clearly, given our insured-loss estimate, the true economic losses are going to be several factors higher.”

Insurers and reinsurers incurred about $50 billion in losses from Hurricane Katrina, which struck the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005 in the industry’s costliest natural disaster, according to AIR.

The Japanese earthquake and ensuing tsunami may have killed 10,000 in Miyagi, national broadcaster NHK reported, citing local police. The official toll reached 1,597, with 1,481 more missing and 1,683 injured, the National Police Agency said. More than 350,000 people are in emergency shelters.

“Given that Japan has an established and significant insurance and reinsurance market, it is likely that Japanese firms may bear the brunt of claims from this event,” S&P’s Seifert said. “However, many global insurers and reinsurers will also have exposure to this event.”

 

<한글 기사>

<日 강진> "재해보험금 최대 346억달러"

美업체 추정..쓰나미 피해분 미반영..사상 최대규모 확실시

(워싱턴 AFP=연합뉴스) 일본 대지진에 따른 재해보험금은 최소 145억달러에서 최대 346억 달러 수준에 이를 것이라는 분석이 나왔다.

미국의 유력 리스크 분석회사인 에어(AIR) 월드와이드는 13일 성명을 통해 자체 모델을 통한 분석 결과 보험계약자의 손실이 이같은 수준이 될 것이라면서도  구호 노력이 진행 중인 만큼 피해 평가는 단지 시작에 불과하다고 전했다.

이 같은 규모는 국제 보험산업계가 지난해 전세계 전체 재앙(catastrophe)에 지 급한 보험금과 거의 같은 수준이라고 이 회사는 밝혔다.

이 회사는 특히 이번 추정치가 지진 및 그에 따른 화재로 인한 주거.상업 빌딩 및 관련 재산 등에 피해분을 반영했을 뿐 쓰나미의 영향은 고려하지 않았다며, 쓰나미 영향분을 반영할 경우 '상당한(significant)' 수준의 증가가 있을 것이라고 덧붙였다.

이 회사는 규모 8.8의 대지진이 지난해 2월말 칠레를 강타한 직후 칠레에 지급할 보험금이 20억~80억달러에 이를 것으로 추정한 바 있다.

당시 칠레의 보험금이 최고치인 80억달러에 달할 경우 1994년 발생한 미국 캘리포니아 지진 때의 보험금 220억달러(물가상승률 환산치)에 이어 두번째로 많은 규모 라고 밝혀 이번 일본 대지진으로 인한 보험금은 사상 최대 규모가 확실할 전망이다.

미국 매사추세츠주(州) 보스턴에 본사를 두고 있는 이 회사는 리스크 분석 소프트웨어와 컨설팅 서비스 분야의 주요 업체로, 50개국 이상에서 자연재해와 테러리 즘으로 인한 리스크 평가를 제공하고 있다.

MOST POPULAR
LATEST NEWS
leadersclub
subscribe