Insured Losses from Haiti Earthquake Estimated at $250 Million

August 18, 2021

The large 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which hit Haiti on Aug. 14, is likely to cost insurers around $250 million, according to catastrophe modeling firm Karen Clark & Co. (KCC).

While the insured losses from this event are estimated at $250 million, the KCC Caribbean Earthquake Reference Model shows that insurable losses are around $1.7 billion (which indicates an insurance protection gap of approximately $1.45 billion).

The earthquake ruptured Haiti’s southwest peninsula 78 miles west of the capital city, Port-au-Prince. The impacts from this event are expected to be significant, although not as devastating as the 2010 earthquake, which directly affected the capital, explained KCC.

KCC said widespread damage to residences and commercial buildings during earthquakes can be attributable to the lack of earthquake-resistant design. In many cases, the structural types, member dimensions, and detailing practices are inadequate to resist strong ground motions. These vulnerabilities are exacerbated by poor construction practices. In Haiti, much construction is unregulated and performed by the building owners themselves, which presents serious challenges in introducing and enforcing standards and codes and makes the building inventory in Haiti among the most seismically vulnerable in the world.

Given the high vulnerability of buildings and strong ground motions near the rupture, widespread damage and casualties have occurred in areas of western Haiti as a result of the Aug. 14 event, said KCC, pointing to numerous hotels and churches that were destroyed on the southwestern coast, including in Les Cayes, a major seaport.

In the northwest, the roof of a cathedral and many other buildings collapsed in Jeremie, a coastal commune which sustained extensive damage. Some shaking was felt in the capital of Port-au-Prince, but no significant damage has been reported there, said KCC.

Source: Karen Clark & Co.

Photograph: In this photo taken on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, locals recover their belongings from their homes in Camp-Perrin, Les Cayes, Haiti, which were destroyed in the magnitude 7.2 earthquake on Aug. 14. The death toll from the quake soared on Sunday as rescuers raced to find survivors amid the rubble ahead of a potential deluge from an approaching tropical storm. Photo credit: AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn.

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