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Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters > Disaster risk

15 Jul 16 07:47

Istanbul. The imposing city straddling the Bosporus strait is one of the most populous cities in the world with roughly 15 million people calling it "home". Thanks to its long and varied history, today's citizens and visitors alike will experience Istanbul as a vibrant place and economic hub, contrasting cultural heritage with the excitement of a modern global city. The impressive skyline and the picturesque view over the Bosporus will easily let you forget the danger luring just off shore in the depths of the Marmara Sea: the Northern Anatolian Fault. It may still be surprising to some of its 12.5 million yearly visitors that Istanbul is considered a global hotspot of earthquake risk. Why not take a closer look?

Building on the lessons learned from large earthquakes around the world in recent years, Swiss Re's new publication explores the potential consequences of a large earthquake near Istanbul. The analysis is based around the scenario of a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in the Marmara Sea south of Istanbul, an event considered likely by leading experts. At first glance, many of the factors that caused surprisingly large losses in the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand might also play a role in Turkey. The large number of claims and the interactions of multiple policies proved to be a big challenge for the insurance industry in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake. Even though the local claims resources could be reinforced by bringing in additional experts from overseas, assessing the full scope of the loss was difficult and the final loss estimate continued to rise for years after the event. Can you imagine what would happen in Istanbul – a city 40 times bigger than Christchurch?

Like in New Zealand, the Turkish insurance market relies on a pool solution provided by the Turkish Catastrophe Insurance Pool (TCIP) to cover homeowners against earthquake losses. Regional and international insurance companies provide additional policies that interact with the TCIP cover in case of an event. Even if agreements with loss adjustment companies are in place, accessibility and language barriers will complicate the organization of the claims process in Turkey post-event. Swiss Re therefore advocates pro-active preparation for the next major earthquake in the Istanbul region and urges all involved to critically review emergency response plans and
take preventive measures to mitigate the "known unknowns" by embracing the learnings from past experience.

The devastating power of earthquakes has caused widespread destruction in recent years. Within seconds, the tragedy unfolds. The effects, however, are long-term. Can we as an industry live up to our role as a reliable shock absorber, providing financial relief to people, helping communities rebuild, making the world more resilient? We think yes. Now, let's work together to ensure we can.

For more information and a deeper view of Istanbul, please feel free to download our Is the insurance industry ready for the next big earthquake? A close look at Istanbul factsheet

Category: Climate/natural disasters: Disaster risk, Earthquakes, Resilience

Location: Istanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

1 Comment

David Sinai - 2 Aug 2016, 2:42 a.m.

To learn from our past experiences is vitally important, so I'm really glad to see that the experiences from Christchurch are being shared widely. Despite the distances (and other obvious differences) between the two cities, our internal workshop to compare Christchurch and Istanbul earthquake insurance risk revealed some remarkable similarities and challenges from an insurance context. 5 years on, we're still learning from Christchurch (which is actually quite a small city), and it will be important to take these lessons on board to avoid a case of (much larger) deja vu if/when Istanbul is impacted by a meaningful earthquake. The Earthquake Commission Act is currently under reveiw, and certain changes will hopefully avoid repeating some of the challenges faced in the past. Likewise, it would make perfect sense to take the lessons from NZ to better prepare for the challenges that will be faced in Istanbul and other scenarios. It would be great to see learnings put into practice....and a lost oppourtunity if nothing changes.

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