Canterbury, N.Z. Earthquake — Updates

Useful map showing the epicenter of the first earthquake (Sept. 2010) and the largest aftershock. ( Thanks to Eric Holderman for the location.)

Economic Aspects:

News from Bloomberg’s business news site about the costs of the earthquake, to N.Z. and to the reinsurance industry. (Feb. 24, 2011)

Wikipedia has a useful initial account of the earthquake. What follows is their account of some of the economic ramifications of the quake:

New Zealand Finance Minister Bill English advised that the effects of the 2011 quake were likely to be more costly than the September 2010 quake. His advice was that the 2011 Earthquake was a “new event” and that reinsurance cover was already in place after the previous 2010 event. New Zealand’s Earthquake Commission (EQC), a government organisation, levies policyholders to cover a major part of the earthquake risk. The EQC further limits its own risk by taking out cover with a number of large reinsurance companies, for example Munich Re. The EQC pays out the first NZ$1.5 billion in claims, and the reinsurance companies are liable for all amounts between NZ$1.5 billion and NZ$4.0 billion. The EQC must cover all amounts above NZ$4.0 billion.

EQC cover entitles the holder to up to NZ$100,000 plus tax (GST) for each dwelling, with any further amount above that being paid by the policyholder’s insurance company. For personal effects, EQC pays out the first NZ$20,000 plus tax. The EQC covers only domestic assets and does not provide cover for businesses.

Claims from the 2010 shock were estimated at NZ$2.75–3.5 billion. Prior to the 2010 quake, the EQC had a fund of NZ$5.6 billion, with just over NZ$4 billion left prior to the 2011 quake, after taking off the NZ$1.5 billion cost. The EQC does not cover commercial buildings, whose owners have to arrange cover with private insurers.

I am trying to figure out why the physical damage was so great from the 6.3 aftershock. Perhaps a sizable no. of structures and infrastructure were weaken during the initial quake  (magnitude 7.1) last Sept. and then failed during the major aftershock.  I would welcome some input on this question.

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