Willis Re Unveils New Japan Tsunami Model

December 3, 2014

Willis Re, the reinsurance division of Willis Group Holdings, the risk adviser, insurance and reinsurance broker, has released a new Japan Tsunami Model to advance the industry’s understanding of catastrophic tsunami losses.

The tsunami model, which was developed in-house alongside the Willis Research Network, includes probabilistic and deterministic modelling functions, while combining tsunami loss information with earthquake shaking damage output.

It provides both Willis Re and its clients the latest intelligence to quantify and manage risk from these extreme events, where historically losses have been little understood, the company said in a statement.

William Thompson, regional director for Willis Re Japan, explained: “The tragedies of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and the tsunami that followed the Tokohu earthquake in 2011 plainly illustrated how damaging these catastrophes can be. They highlighted the need to better understand and quantify the risks from secondary perils.”

While Japan earthquake risk has been rigorously modeled, the complexity of modelling tsunami has led to a significant gap in the industry’s ability to quantify risk for severe earthquake events, said Thompson.

Through the Willis Research Network, Willis Re has worked closely with Tohoku University and UCL [University College London] on the model since 2010.

“To date we have conducted research into a variety of related research fields, including tsunami data collection and tsunami simulation, as well as the development of tsunami hazard maps and vulnerability function,” said Professor Fumihiko Imamura, director of Tohoku University’s International Research Institute of Disaster Science.We hope that the outcome of this research will be able to foster greater tsunami risk management and disaster prevention in the future.”

Tiziana Rossetto, director of EPICentre, UCL, said: “Our focus has been on the development of the vulnerability model, linking tsunami intensity with mean damage and loss. There are significant obstacles to estimating tsunami losses due to limited availability of data for low-frequency/high-severity events. The current tsunami vulnerability model utilizes rigorous statistical analysis of detailed data from the 2011 Japan tsunami, resulting in a model which represents the state-of-the-art in estimating losses per building due to tsunamis.”

Source: Willis Re

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