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In their assessments of the likely losses the Tohoku earthquake caused to Japanese non-life insurers, prognosticators revealed the companies had accumulated significant residential catastrophe reserves—something that could not be said of insurers in the United States should a similar event happen here.

U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) prohibit the use of catastrophe reserves for future events. American International Group Inc. (AIG) referenced this fact when it provided a look at how the earthquake will cause potential losses for Fuji Fire and Marine Insurance Co. Ltd., in which AIG holds a 54.66 percent equity stake.

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