Japanese Insurers, GIAJ Pay Almost $415m Claims For New Year’s Day Japan Earthquake 

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The General Insurance Association of Japan (GIAJ) said over JPY 61 billion or USD414 million claims had been paid to over 67,000 claimants from the New Year’s Day Noto Peninsula earthquake.

The M7.5 earthquake, which occurred shortly after 4 pm local time off the west coast of Japan as a result of shallow reverse faulting in the Earth’s crust, caused extensive damage around and south of the epicentre, impacting the prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata, Toyama, and Fukui.

Reinsurance News reports that, a little over two months after the event, the GIAJ has revealed that 115,211 claims had been accepted as of March 8th, which includes those where requests for investigations into damage to houses and/or household goods had been made, and also advice and/or inquiries about earthquake insurance coverage and/or policyholder contracts.

Of the total, the GIAJ says that the number of completed investigations is 95,601, which includes cases where actual claims were paid following the investigations, as well as cases not covered by insurance, and cases resolved at the consultation or inquiry stage.

Of the completed investigations, the GIAJ pegs the number of claims payments as of March 8th at 67,413 with a total value of JPY 61.03 billion, or USD 414 million (USD 403m at today’s exchange rate), making it the seventh most costly Japan earthquake insurance loss so far.

It’s important to note that the GIAJ’s numbers represent the total combined figures for member companies of the GIAJ and the Foreign Non-Life Insurance Association of Japan.

At just over USD 400 million, the amount of claims and claims payments is expected to rise considerably, as it is still some way off industry-insured loss estimates, which have ranged from USD 1.8 billion to as much as USD 6.4 billion.

While it will take some time for the ultimate insurance and reinsurance industry loss to be known, it’s clear that the January 1st Noto Peninsula earthquake will be one of the costliest in Japan’s history, in terms of insured losses.

Even at the low end of current industry estimates, it would be the third or fourth costliest insured earthquake on record in Japan, and if the total loss settles somewhere in the middle of the ranges or towards the upper end, it would take over the April 2016 Kumamoto quake, which resulted in insured losses of JPY 390 billion (USD 2.6bn at today’s exchange rate), according to the GIAJ’s data.

Unsurprisingly, the costliest insured earthquake event in the country’s history is the M9 2011 Tohoku event and subsequent tsunami, which resulted in an industry loss of close to USD 50 billion.