Brought to you by:

Japanese earthquake losses could hit $9 billion 

Insured losses from the earthquake that shook Japan’s Noto Peninsula on New Year’s Day could reach ¥435- ¥870 billion ($4.4-$9 billion), catastrophe risk modeller Moody’s RMS estimates. 

The “shallow” earthquake, recording a 7.6 magnitude on the Japan Meteorological Agency scale, was felt widely across Ishikawa, Toyama and Niigata prefectures. 

Moody’s RMS says that as of January 11, more than 3500 properties were reported damaged. The number was expected to rise significantly, particularly in worst-affected areas on the Noto Peninsula. 

“This event highlights the importance of evaluating shallow crustal earthquakes within a comprehensive view of seismic risk – in Japan and around the world,” Moody’s RMS Senior Director Chesley Williams said. 

Fitch Ratings says the quake is likely to result in small net losses for the country’s major general insurance groups, with residential impacts expected to account for more than half of the economic losses. 

The earthquake probably caused economic losses exceeding ¥800 billion ($8.2 billion), according to Nomura Research Institute figures cited by Fitch. 

Japanese general insurers have limited net retention on residential quake risk due to government involvement, while exposure to the corporate risk is also small because of transfers to European and US reinsurers. 

“Therefore, Fitch estimates that the net insured losses of the non-life groups from the earthquake would be small,” the ratings company said. 

Japan’s three main non-life groups, Tokio Marine Holdings, MS&AD and Sompo, had aggregate net assets of about ¥8 trillion ($82 billion) on a consolidated basis at the end of last March. 

Data and analytics company Verisk estimated in early January that the earthquake’s insured losses will be about ¥260-460 billion ($2.6-$4.7 billion). 

Most of the damage occurred in Ishikawa prefecture, particularly in Wajima city, but ground shaking and liquefaction also led to impacts in prefectures such as Niigata and Toyama.  

The Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11 2011, which severely affected the Tohoku region in northern Japan, caused economic losses of ¥16.9 trillion ($174 billion).