RMS Analyzes New Zealand Earthquake Insured Losses

September 9, 2010

Risk Management Solutions has stated that, based on its analysis of the area exposed to the New Zealand earthquake, it “currently expects that approximately 60-70 percent of the insured loss will be residential, and 30-40 percent will be commercial and industrial.”

RMS added that the “majority of residential claims will be paid out by the Earthquake Commission (EQC), though some claims will be large enough to exceed the EQC NZ$100,000 [US $72,582) limit and go into excess EQC policies. The total residential claims expected by the EQC are at the upper end of NZ$1-2 billion [US$ 0.72 to $1.45 billion], which would trigger their reinsurance program, which is understood to kick in at NZ$1.5 billion [US$1.09 billion].”

RMS added that the “state of emergency in Christchurch will be extended for a further seven days in response to the latest aftershock, allowing Civil Defence the power to close buildings and restrict access to certain areas.

“The magnitude 5.1 aftershock which struck at 07:49 local time, 8 September, was the strongest felt since the main 7.1 earthquake. Civil defense director John Hamilton said Christchurch had suffered no significant new damage, though some properties may need re-assessing.”

RMS said that its “building evaluation team has now assessed 970 buildings within Christchurch’s Central Business District, and along the edge of arterial roads. So far, just 5 percent of buildings assessed to date are considered unsafe, with 25 percent requiring further structural assessment. The remaining 70 percent of buildings were assessed to be safe for their intended use.

RMS’ Ben Fox, senior catastrophe response analyst, explained that the focus is now on “assessing damage in the suburbs, with the priority being Brooklands and Bexley. An estimated 500 buildings have already been condemned in the region, and approximately 100,000 of the 160,000, or almost two-thirds, of the houses in the region suffered some degree of damage during the earthquake.

“Many homes are reported to be structurally sound, but suffered various degrees of contents damage.” Several neighborhoods experienced damage to houses caused by liquefaction, including Avondale, Avonside, Bexley, Brooklands, Halswell, Parklands and Redcliffs.

Source: Risk Management Solutions

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