RMS Estimates Insured Losses up to $59.77 Million for U.K. Tremor

February 28, 2008

The earthquake that struck Market Rasen in Lincolnshire yesterday is likely to cause insured losses of between $29.88 million and $59.77 million, according to initial estimates by Risk Management Solutions (RMS).

Despite the location of the earthquake’s epicentre, most of the damage was sustained some 18 miles away in Gainsborough, where residential and commercial properties were affected. The concentration of damage in the southern area of the town is likely to be a result of poor soil conditions, which are known to amplify the impact of earthquakes, and weaknesses in the buildings.

The magnitude 5.2 earthquake could be felt across a wide radius, but created relatively low-level ground motions. “The damage caused is largely a reflection of the vulnerability of buildings, rather than the strength of the earthquake,” commented Dr. Andrew Sorby, model manager for Europe earthquake at RMS.

“Had the same event occurred in an area like California, where earthquake risk is high and properties are built to withstand ground-shaking, the damage would have been minimal.” For example, a similar magnitude earthquake in California in October caused very little damage, with only a few cracked windows reported.

Many UK properties are made of masonry, which makes them more prone to severe cracking during earthquakes compared to wood-framed buildings, for example. The damage resulting from the Folkestone earthquake in April last year – reported to be between $39 million and $59 million – was concentrated in a small residential area consisting of mainly Victorian properties, which tend to be more prone to damage.

Earthquake insurance is included as standard in most homeowner and commercial business policies, together with wind and flood risk. “Since the summer floods, which affected many of the same areas impacted by the earthquake, more people are likely to have taken out insurance to protect their properties, so most of the damage from this earthquake should be covered,” added Sorby.

RMS has sent reconnaissance teams to assess the damage in Lincolnshire, and will include this information in its UK earthquake model to be released later this year.

Source: RMS, www.rms.com.

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