Filed Under:Claims, Catastrophe & Restoration

Insured losses from Chile 8.3 earthquake estimated at $600-$900 million

Debris sits among destroyed homes and boats in Coquimbo, Chile, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. The Chilean government declared a state of emergency for the region around the port city of Coquimbo, near the epicenter of the quake that struck late Wednesday. The magnitude-8.3 earthquake killed 11 people and caused widespread disruption. Hundreds of soldiers were to be sent to the affected region. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)
Debris sits among destroyed homes and boats in Coquimbo, Chile, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. The Chilean government declared a state of emergency for the region around the port city of Coquimbo, near the epicenter of the quake that struck late Wednesday. The magnitude-8.3 earthquake killed 11 people and caused widespread disruption. Hundreds of soldiers were to be sent to the affected region. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimates that P&C industry insured losses from the 8.3-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile’s central coast near Illapel on September 16 will be between $600-$900 million. 

AIR's insured loss estimates include insured physical damage to onshore property (residential, commercial/industrial) and direct business interruption losses.

“The September 16 earthquake was the result of convergence between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates,” said Dr. Mehrdad Mahdyiar, vice president and senior director of earthquake hazard research at AIR Worldwide. 

“Here, the Nazca plate plunges beneath the South American plate, forming a subduction zone. Active subduction zones are some of the most likely plate interfaces to generate quakes of catastrophic magnitude and also pose the greatest risk of triggering tsunamigenic tectonic events,” according to Dr. Mahdyiar.

At least 12 dead

Authorities have stated that at least 12 people have died as a result of the quake, which was felt as far away as São Paulo, Brazil. Strong shaking was felt in Chile’s capital city of Santiago, the nation’s most populous city, where tall buildings swayed for up to three minutes.

“The main shock, which was followed by several strong aftershocks, triggered a tsunami that was recorded in several countries. The tsunami produced waves up to 1 meter in height as far away as the Hawaiian Islands,” acccording to Dr. Mahdyiar. 

The port city of Coquimbo reported the highest tsunami wave at nearly 5 meters. Debris and fishing boats washed inland into the Coquimbo downtown area, where homes and businesses were inundated. The town of Illapel, located directly east of the quake’s epicenter, suffered the heaviest damage resulting from strong ground motion.

More than 400 homes destroyed

According to ONEMI, the Chilean agency responsible for public safety and emergency response, more than 400 residential buildings have been destroyed. In addition, more than 700 residential buildings have sustained major damage. 

AIR’s loss estimates explicitly capture damage from ground shaking, tsunami, and liquefaction. Losses are dominated by shake damage in AIR’s scenarios, with a very small contribution from liquefaction.

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