Earthquake insurance

  • D. J. Scott Commercial Union Insurance, Wellington, New Zealand


This paper is about insuring buildings and contents against the risk of earthquake. There are problems encountered with the assessment and underwriting of the earthquake risk, and there are lessons to be learnt by insurers following the Edgecumbe and Mexico earthquakes. Discussing these matters will lead to conclusions and recommendations that:

(a) The exposure to the seismic risk must be properly assessed, costed, and spread more equitably amongst the community;

(b) All parties likely to be involved in an earthquake should establish closer relationships now to improve disaster planning to cope with a great earthquake.


Birss, G.R., "Methodology for the Assessment of the Damage Cost Resulting from a Large Earthquake in the vicinity of Wellington", NZNSEE Bulletin, vol. 18, no. 3, September 1985. DOI:

Porro, B., "Earthquake Assessment - What Can We Do", Journal of the Insurance Institute of New Zealand, September 1986

How to Cite
Scott, D. J. (1988). Earthquake insurance . Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 21(2), 116-127.