Total insured losses from Japan earthquake set to reach $6.4bn: KCC

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According to Karen Clark & Company (KCC), the total insured losses from the magnitude 7.5 earthquake which struck off the west coast of the island of Honshu in Japan will reach $6.4 billion, with residential losses accounting for over two-thirds of the total.

Outlining the particulars of the event, the risk modelling firm said that this 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake impacted the four prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata, Toyama, and Fukui.

The earthquake was a result of shallow reverse faulting, which KCC explained as geological strata on one side of a fault plane being pushed up over the strata on the other side.

“Several cities and towns experienced very high ground motion, including Shika, Nanao, Wajima, Suzu, Anamizu, and Noto,” KCC said.

It was the largest earthquake since 2015, and the deadliest in the country since 2016.

The firm continued, “Machiya homes make up more than a third of the residential inventory in Ishikawa Prefecture, and they can be especially vulnerable during earthquakes because their heavy earthen walls, traditional timber construction, and tiled roofs are more prone to collapse than modern materials like steel and reinforced concrete.”

KCC also observed that the long narrow layout of Machiya homes can make the structures more susceptible to lateral forces during strong shaking.

“Most of the remaining residential buildings are 1‐ and 2‐story wooden buildings. These buildings possess better earthquake resistance than Machiya buildings because they have wooden frames partially reinforced by light metal and are anticipated to have suffered lower levels of damage. However, in the 
areas of significant ground motion, these wood buildings can be severely damaged,” KCC added.

The firm went on, “Age plays a role as well. Across Ishikawa, a third of all residential buildings date from before 1981. Commercial and industrial buildings in the affected cities are predominantly steel construction, which has significantly higher earthquake resistance. Residential property losses are expected to exceed those of commercial and industrial properties.”

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