SWISS Re: Earthquakes in Italy are insurable

30 April 2019 — Daniela GHETU
10 years after the earthquake that has destroyed the medieval heart of the Italian city of L'Aquila, Swiss Re promotes, together with the Italian Association of Insurers - ANIA, the idea of increasing the Italian cities' resilience by adopting country wide insurance solutions to mitigate earthquake risk and protect communities, by providing the financial means to recovery.

The Italian state have spent 150 billion EUR on reconstruction in the last 50 years. Italy is a country of natural disasters and is also among the least insured ones. Ten years after the earthquake in L'Aquila, it's time to sum it up. How much money has come out of the state budget and therefore from taxpayers' pockets? And how would the insurance intervention work instead? These are the main starting points of Swiss Re involvement in the Sant'Emidio Project, a project developed together with the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana (CEI), known as Italian Bishops Conference, and CATTOLICA Assicurazioni, aiming to develop a national scheme to protect churches in case of Nat Cat events.

The project is addressing, in fact, one of the most sensible vulnerabilities of Italy, a country of an astonishing cultural richness, but also with a high exposure to Nat Cat risks - in particular earthquake and landslides -, and a very low penetration of Nat Cat insurance coverage of properties.

At the core of the issue is the lack of affordable indemnity coverage. The combination given by the high exposure and the impressive number of historical monuments and heritage buildings, scattered around the country makes classic insurance solutions unaffordable and thus ineffective from the risk management standpoint.

But index solutions are cost effective, providing an ideal alternative for customers, advocates Swiss Re, and the Sant'Emidio Project's ambition is "closing the Nat Cat protection gap (insuring currently not insured risks), which currently stands at about EUR 10 billion of annual expected losses in Italy alone." Based on the original product launched by CATTOLICA Assicurazioni, and the reinsurance coverage provided by Swiss Re, the Sant'Emidio Project aims to protect all parishes of the CEI in the entire Italian territory, and thus the very social tissue and traditional lifestyle of the Italian communities, in an affordable and sustainable way.

"Great tragedies as the one that hit L'Aquila radically change a community, says Massimo CIALENTE, Mayor of L'Aquila between 2007 and 2017.

"Events like these affect two-three generations, leaving a lifelong mark. At a certain point we have to pick up the pieces and start again. It happened to us and we are moving forward, but it is obvious that the Aquilans' spirit is no longer the same", he added.

A devastating earthquake hit the city of L'Aquila, in the Central Italy, in the morning of April 6th, 2009, at 3.32 a.m. The event left behind 309 dead, 1,600 injured and 80,000 people displaced, the total economic losses amounting some EUR 10 billion.

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