Willis Report: California May See Less Shaking in Earthquake

October 21, 2008

Willis Group Holdings, a global insurance broker, has released a report summarizing recent changes in the scientific view of seismic hazard in the United States. The report has been added to the curriculum of the Associate in Reinsurance (ARe) designation program, offered by both the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters and the Insurance Institute of America.

“This report lays the ground work for understanding the new scientific view of earthquake risk in the U.S.,” noted Julie Serakos, executive vice president of Willis Catastrophe Management Services. The report “serves as the starting point for assisting insurers with making appropriate decisions to manage their earthquake risk going forward.”

The three key themes discussed are:
-The greatest magnitude changes in seismic risk have occurred in California, with significant but lesser changes in the Pacific Northwest.

-Measurements from recent large earthquakes around the world indicate that tall buildings in California may experience less shaking in a large earthquake than was previously assumed.

-The vendors’ U.S. earthquake catastrophe models will be recalibrated and therefore the seismic hazard changes presented in this report may be offset or amplified by changes to other modelling components.

“Risk managers and insurance executives are confronted by an array of obstacles when understanding the current scientific view of seismic hazard,” said Kyle Beatty, vice president of Willis Catastrophe Management Services. “We expect this report, and others to follow, will help them formulate a more comprehensive picture of the key issues at hand.”

The report provides detailed regional maps illustrating the results of two recent academic research papers: the 2008 National Seismic Hazard Maps and the 2007 Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast. It focuses on the implication these new studies could have on catastrophe risk managers, including a discussion of how the vendor earthquake catastrophe models may change in the U.S. as a result.

To read the briefing in full, visit http://www.willisre.com/html/reports/catastrophe/Willis_Report_Preparing_for_a_New_View_of_US_EQ_Risk.pdf.

Source: Willis

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