Chile Earthquake Offers Reminder That U.S. Faces Similar Risks

Targeted News Service

NEW YORK, April 2 -- The Insurance Information Institute issued the following news release:

The 8.2-magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of northern Chile on Tuesday, April 1, and resulted in tsunami advisories as far away as Hawaii, highlights the vulnerability of the United States' to temblors and quake-caused tsunamis, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). Chile was also the site of the largest earthquake ever recorded in May 1960, when a deadly 9.5-magnitude quake and resulting tsunami caused approximately 1,655 fatalities and millions of dollars of damage in Chile, Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports. In addition, a February 2010 Chilean earthquake caused $8 billion in insured losses when it occurred, equal to about $8.6 billion in 2013 dollars, making it the fourth costliest earthquake and 13th most expensive natural disaster in history, according to the Insurance Information Institute and Munich Re. This week's earthquake in Chile comes on the heels of a magnitude 5.1 temblor on March 28 that caused modest damage outside of Los Angeles. "Four of the five costliest earthquakes in the past three decades have occurred since 2010," said Dr. Robert Hartwig, president of the I.I.I. and an economist. "The Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 remains the costliest disaster of this type in recent history, having generated $40 billion in insured losses at the time it occurred." Besides Chile and Japan, New Zealand has over the past four years been the site of two significant earthquakes, one in September 2010 and the other in February 2011. Together, the New Zealand quakes resulted in $20.5 billion in insurance claims payouts.

The earthquake that struck Northridge, California, in January 1994 is second only to the March 2011 Japan quake on the list of costliest earthquakes worldwide dating back to 1980, having caused $15.3 billion in insured losses at the time, a number equivalent to nearly $24 billion in 2013 dollars. The greatest loss of life due to earthquakes occurred in Haiti in January 2010 and in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other Indian Ocean coastal nations in December 2004, with more than 200,000 fatalities in both instances. NOAA has made significant upgrades to the U.S. tsunami warning system since 2004. The federal government announced in 2008 that NOAA now had 39 stations providing coastal communities in the Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico with faster and more accurate, tsunami warnings. RELATED LINKS

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[Category: Insurance]

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