Probabilistic Seismic Risk Assessment in Manizales, Colombia: Quantifying Losses for Insurance Purposes
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A fully probabilistic seismic risk assessment was developed in Manizales, Colombia, considering assets of different types. The first type includes elements that are part of the water and sewage network, and the second type includes public and private buildings. This assessment required the development of a probabilistic seismic hazard analysis that accounts for the dynamic soil response, assembling high resolution exposure databases, and the development of damage models for different types of elements. The economic appraisal of the exposed assets was developed together with specialists of the water utilities company of Manizales and the city administration. The risk assessment was performed using several Comprehensive Approach to Probabilistic Risk Assessment modules as well as the R-System, obtaining results in terms of traditional metrics such as loss exceedance curve, average annual loss, and probable maximum loss. For the case of pipelines, repair rates were also estimated. The results for the water and sewage network were used in activities related to the expansion and maintenance strategies, as well as for the exploration of financial retention and transfer alternatives using insurance schemes based on technical, probabilistic, and prospective damage and loss estimations. In the case of the buildings, the results were used in the update of the technical premium values of the existing collective insurance scheme.
KeywordsCAPRA Earthquake insurance Manizales (Colombia) Probabilistic seismic risk assessment Risk retention and transfer
Manizales is a city of about 400,000 inhabitants located in the Colombian Andes. Similarly to other cities in the region, Manizales has a building portfolio that is mainly comprised of low and middle-rise masonry and reinforced concrete residential, commercial, and administrative units. As a consequence of being located in a region prone to hazards with different origins (for example, landslides, floods, and volcanic ash fall are common in the city, and the Colombian Andes are prone to earthquakes), a comprehensive set of disaster risk management and reduction activities have been continuously developed during the past 10 years. These actions have had remarkable achievements in terms of corrective and prospective interventions, which range from the structural retrofitting of hospitals to the design and implementation of a voluntary and collective risk transfer scheme using innovative earthquake insurance approaches (Marulanda 2013; Marulanda et al. 2014, 2016).
As part of these disaster risk management and reduction activities that have taken place in the city, a multidisciplinary and multi-sectorial disaster risk management and reduction project was developed for the city.1 Among its different activities, a fully probabilistic seismic risk assessment was developed for all elements of the water and sewage network owned and operated by Waters of Manizales S.A. E.S.P. (Aguas de Manizales S.A. E.S.P.), and also for the portfolio of public and private buildings within the city limits. The aim of the assessment was to estimate the order of magnitude of potential damages and losses due to earthquakes, and use these results in the design of an earthquake insurance policy for the water and sewage network, as well as in the update of the existing voluntary and collective insurance scheme of the buildings in the city. This is the first time a fully probabilistic seismic risk assessment has been performed for water and sewage networks in Colombia, although similar assessments have been previously performed in other parts of the world (Taleb-Agha 1977; Eguchi 1991; Isoyama et al. 1998; Ballantyne et al. 1999; Pitilakis et al. 2006). With respect to the building portfolio, this assessment constitutes an update, bearing in mind that similar studies have been developed using the same methodological framework in other urban centers such as Bogotá D.C., Medellín, Barcelona, and Lorca (Marulanda et al. 2013; Salgado-Gálvez et al. 2013, 2014a, b, 2016c).
Because a number of uncertainties related to seismic hazard and physical vulnerability exist, it has been widely acknowledged that probabilistic approaches and methodological frameworks are required when assessing, in a prospective way, feasible future losses (McGuire 2004; Grossi and Kunreuther 2005; UNISDR 2013; GFDRR 2014). These probabilistic approaches are intended to not only identify the uncertainties but, when possible, quantify and rigorously propagate them throughout the whole analysis process. Recently, different open-source tools and initiatives to perform these evaluations have been developed, with the primary objective of providing access to these tools to developing countries. A widely used and recognized tool is CAPRA—Comprehensive Approach to Probabilistic Risk Assessment (Cardona et al. 2012).
For the building stock, the probabilistic risk assessment was performed with the R System (ERN 2014), a proprietary tool that implements the fully probabilistic and event-based loss assessment methodology proposed by Ordaz (2000). The results from this assessment were used for the update of the technical premium values used for the insurance of the complete portfolio of public buildings of Manizales (using one collective policy), as well as for the premium values of the voluntary and collective insurance scheme for the private buildings of the city. In the case of the water and sewage network, the results were used to identify appropriate materials to be used in the expansion and maintenance activities of the water and sewage company, as well as to serve as a base for the negotiation of an earthquake insurance policy based in sound technical results, instead of using solely the opinion of experts. The results constitute a starting point not only for future updates of the assessment (accounting for changes in the exposure characteristics, for example, larger number of buildings, water and sewage network elements with different characteristics, and better understanding of the seismic hazard in the area under analysis), but for a later integration of damages and losses associated to other types of hazards that can be aggregated using approaches like the one proposed by Ordaz (2014).
This case study provides an example of how scientific, engineering, and financial activities can be combined in order to develop comprehensive disaster risk management activities converting the results into a technical basis for the design and implementation of earthquake insurance schemes in the city of Manizales.
2 Methodology and Input Data
This assessment made use of the recently updated local seismic hazard model at bedrock level considering the local site effects (Bernal et al. 2015, 2017; Salgado-Gálvez et al. 2016b). Additionally, detailed and high-resolution exposure databases were developed for the water and sewage and building portfolios—in the case of buildings, individual structural characteristics (that is, age, number of stories, and construction material) were recorded for each entry, whereas in the case of the water and sewage network, characteristics for each segment of the pipelines (that is, material, diameter, and joint type, among others) were assigned. In addition to buried pipelines, other elements such as water storage tanks and administrative buildings were also considered; for these, parameters such as age and construction material were also taken into account. After identifying the structural characteristics of each element included in both exposure databases, a set of vulnerability functions was developed in terms of different seismic hazard intensity measures (for example, spectral acceleration, and peak ground velocity), to be assigned later to each element. Then the convolution between hazard and vulnerability was performed using the CAPRA-GIS program (ERN-AL 2011) to obtain the loss exceedance curve (LEC), from which other probabilistic risk metrics such as average annual loss (AAL) and probable maximum loss (PML) can be obtained. For the buried pipelines, average annual repair rates (by km) were also estimated.
The development of a fully probabilistic seismic risk analysis usually requires the completion of a set of activities that provide input data. Among them, the following can be identified: (1) a probabilistic seismic hazard analysis in which events with different characteristics such as location, magnitude, and occurrence frequency are modelled, together with the geographical distribution of the hazard intensities and the dynamic soil response, which is of high interest usually where there is presence of soft soil layers; (2) the assembly of exposure databases making use of several data sources, with the objective of identifying and characterizing all relevant elements on which feasible damages and losses are of interest; (3) the development of vulnerability models that relate different seismic hazard intensities to the expected losses, where a unique vulnerability function is assigned to each element included in the exposure database, associated to the hazard intensity that better correlates with damage (that is, spectral acceleration for flexible buildings, peak ground velocity for buried pipelines); and (4) the assessment of damages and losses by convoluting hazard and vulnerability, thus obtaining exceedance rates for different loss values (in monetary terms), from where other relevant risk metrics such as the AAL and the PML can be obtained (Ordaz 2000; Cardona et al. 2008a, b). This section summarizes the most relevant aspects of each of these four steps for the water and sewage network of Manizales, as well as for its portfolio of public and private buildings.
2.1 Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis
The objective of a probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) is to provide a long-term overview of the relationships between strong ground motion levels and their occurrence frequencies. For a fully probabilistic seismic risk assessment, a hazard representation by means of stochastic events (event-based approach) is required. A PSHA allows the user to obtain feasible earthquakes with different locations, magnitudes, and occurrence frequencies, associated to all the seismic sources of interest. For this case, the PSHA was developed using the latest version of the program CRISIS, a well-known and accepted tool that implements state-of-the-art methodologies to perform PSHA (Ordaz et al. 2013). This program is also the seismic hazard module of the CAPRA platform and an input data provider for the R-System, used for the case of buildings.
The PSHA was developed at local level considering more than 35 seismic sources for which, in all cases, a geometric area model was used for their representation accounting for variations in dip angles and depths (Salgado-Gálvez et al. 2013, 2016b). Regionally developed and calibrated ground motion prediction equations (GMPE) were assigned to each seismic source (Bernal 2014), thus allowing the consideration of different hazard intensities such as spectral accelerations, peak ground velocity (PGV), and peak ground displacement (PGD). As a result of the PSHA a total of 1275 stochastic events were obtained, each of them with a set of hazard intensities associated to several spectral ordinates ranging between 0.0 and 4.0 s, and for ground accelerations, velocities, and displacements. Since a Poissonian process is assumed to occur for the loss generation process, the stochastic event set needs to be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive; individual events need to have an associated occurrence frequency and data of at least the first two statistical moments for each hazard intensity measure.
Due to the characteristics of the soils in Manizales, and also because of the local nature of the analysis, as well as its high level of resolution, it is relevant to take into account the dynamic soil response. This was done by using spectral transfer functions based on the results of the recently updated and harmonized seismic microzonation developed for the city [also developed within the framework of the disaster risk management and reduction project, see Bernal et al. (2015, 2017)] that provides results at 377 different locations.
2.2 Assembly of the Exposure Databases
The development of exposure databases has always constituted a great challenge in modeling disaster risk because, in most cases, in order to complete the identification and characterization process, data from several sources need to be combined, leading to a process where assumptions and simplifications are usually required. However, the exposure databases developed for these case studies can be considered an exception. Given the previous continuous efforts of the water and sewage company, as well as of the city (cadastral office), in gathering, arranging, classifying, and updating the information related to the exposed assets, all relevant parameters for a seismic risk assessment (ranging from age to structural system, construction material, location, and geometry) could be obtained directly from the official sources (only specific field visits to validate and review very specific issues were needed). The economic appraisal of each element included in the exposure databases was done using official data in a task where close collaboration was received from specialists working in the water utilities company of Manizales and the cadastral office of the city.
The exposure databases for the water and sewage network, as well as for the public and private buildings, required the development of specific tasks such as the identification of the relevant structural parameters that are related to the expected behavior of each asset when subjected to earthquake hazard intensities. Because of the evident differences between the type of components, and since the use of the results was not directly linked or combined, these activities were performed in a separate manner.
The economic appraisal of the whole water and sewage network was developed in terms of the replacement cost, that is the amount of money required to repair or rebuild the damaged element and take it back to the exact same conditions it was in before it was damaged; in this case, the value for each element does not simply correspond to its monetary cost (for example, 5 m of concrete pipe), but also to other costs associated to activities of installation, such as breaking and repairing streets at different depths. All values were obtained directly from the water utilities company and those data can be said to be complete, reliable, and updated. Overall, pipelines for primary and secondary water and sewage networks account for most of the exposed value with around 80%, followed by the water storage tanks that account for approximately 7% of the total exposed value of the water and sewage network in Manizales.
For the case of the public and private building portfolio, the base information to assemble the exposure database was delivered by the Secretary of Finance and the Risk Management Unit (Unidad de Gestión del Riesgo) of the city administration, and was complemented with additional parameters from aerial images, existing maps, and field visits. The first exposure database for private buildings in Manizales, developed for purposes related to seismic risk assessment in 2004, included representative variables such as age, number of stories, structural system, location, and socioeconomic level. The latter is specified in terms of strata, from 1 to 6, in which strata 1 and 2 group inhabitants with the lowest economic capacity and are therefore granted a property tax exemption, whereas strata 3–6 group property tax payers. At the time the project was conducted, more than 85,816 dwellings were included and, for the purpose of the analysis, they were split into three different categories as explained in detail in Marulanda et al. (2014, 2016).
2.3 Vulnerability Functions
The vulnerability function approach accounts for a continuous, quantitative, and probabilistic representation of the physical damage of the assets for different levels of hazard intensities. For each asset included in the exposure databases, a unique vulnerability function is assigned in order to estimate the losses associated with different hazard intensity levels, for each of the considered stochastic events. Due to the great variety of types of elements, vulnerability functions in terms of several hazard intensities were developed, given that different intensities show good correlation with the damage of different types of elements. For example, vulnerability functions were developed in terms of peak ground acceleration (PGA) for the case of buried water storage tanks, in terms of spectral accelerations for administrative buildings and elevated water storage tanks, and in terms of PGV for buried pipelines. For the latter, the recommendations provided by the American Lifeline Alliance—ALA (2001) were followed in order to obtain the repair rates, RR (the number of damages to be repaired by km).
2.4 Loss Assessment
For the case of the water and sewage network, additional analyses were considered for particular feasible earthquakes in which the approach from the temporal perspective can be considered as deterministic, but which is still probabilistic from the loss estimation perspective (since the uncertainties associated with the strong ground motion intensities and the vulnerability representation are still accounted for). In that case, the expected loss for the particular scenario is estimated using Eq. 1 where the occurrence frequency of the considered event is assumed to be equal to 1.0.
The results of the fully probabilistic seismic risk assessment of the two portfolios for Manizales (the water and sewage network and the public and private buildings) are presented in this section. For clarity, they have been split by category. Due to confidentiality constraints, the results (in terms of absolute exposed values and losses) for the water and sewage network are not presented here, although the relevant share by component is included.
3.1 Water and Sewage Portfolio
Exposed value and average annual loss (AAL) by component for the Aguas de Manizales network (a), and probable maximum loss (PML) for different return periods of the Aguas de Manizales network (b) in Manizales, Colombia
Relative share (%)
Probable maximum loss
Return period (years)
Relative loss (%)
In addition to the fully probabilistic seismic risk assessment, an event capable of causing losses with a return period of 1000 years occurring in the vicinity of the city was considered (event with magnitude 7.3, with an epicenter located 25 km southwest of Manizales). In this case, instead of a loss exceedance rate, what is directly obtained is the mean damage ratio (MDR) of each component of the network, which is approximately 3.5% of the total exposed value. As in the fully probabilistic assessment, risk is mostly concentrated in the water storage tanks and the administrative buildings. Repair rates for pipelines with different materials and joint characteristics were compared with published post-earthquake survey data of water and sewage systems (Ballantyne et al. 1991, 2002), finding congruent results in terms of RR. Several of the tools and programs used for this study have been previously tested and validated with particular damage results for earthquakes in Lorca, Spain (Salgado-Gálvez et al. 2016a).
3.2 Building Portfolio
For the building portfolio, three separate seismic risk assessments were performed. The first included only the buildings that are exempt from property taxes (socioeconomic strata 1 and 2), the second included only the buildings subjected to property tax payments (socioeconomic strata 3–6), and the third included all 113,064 dwellings.
Seismic risk results, average annual loss (AAL), and probable maximum loss (PML), for public and private buildings with 0 and 3% deductible levels in Manizales, Colombia
The value of the pure premium, in 2014, for private properties was set equal to 2.86‰ without deductible, and to 1.63‰ after applying a 3% deductible. Despite the significant increase in the number of existing properties in the city in a period shorter than 10 years (from 85,816 to 113,064), the decrease of the pure risk premium value in the city (with 3% deductible) from 1.98 to 1.63‰ is particularly remarkable. It is rarely possible to measure the seismic risk of a city in different time periods with the same metrics, and even more so to reveal a reduction of risk which, in the case of Manizales, could be expected due to the efforts made in risk management. In recent years a significant number of buildings have been retrofitted in Manizales, particularly public sector buildings. This can explain the new pure risk premium value of 1.62‰ (with 3% of deductible) for these properties. This value is practically the same if compared to the value estimated for the private buildings. However, the main reason why the seismic risk of the city has been decreasing relates to the significant increase in construction of new buildings that effectively take into account all the earthquake resistance requirements established in the Colombian earthquake resistant building code—NSR-10 (Marulanda et al. 2016).
4 Using the Seismic Risk Results in Earthquake Insurance Design and Implementation
The seismic risk results obtained from the assessment outlined above have been used in different activities that include: the design of cross (subsidized) collective earthquake insurance schemes, the development of hybrid loss exceedance curves (Velásquez et al. 2014), the feasibility assessment of the use of alternative risk transfer instruments such as captive or cat-bonds for the insurance of the water and sewage network components, as well as the identification of the best materials and characteristics for the construction, maintenance, expansion, and update of pipelines.
Regarding the water and sewage network, the results were useful for the design of a structural retrofitting strategy of critical components based on the overall risk results. Among the components, the water storage tanks were prioritized not only due to the high relevance they have in the operational capacity of the network, but also due to the high-risk concentration they present, as shown in Table 1. For that reason, a probabilistic benefit–cost analysis was developed to explore different structural retrofitting alternatives, with the selection of the most effective ones from the behavioral and economic perspectives. Regarding the pipelines, after the disaggregation of the risk results by material and joint type, the difference was evident, allowing us to recommend that for expansion and replacement activities (the latter closely related to the continuous maintenance actions developed by the company), flexible joints and materials are to be used. This is in order to minimize the expected damages, and therefore, to guarantee a better operational condition of the system after the occurrence of an earthquake in the city or its surroundings.
The results also led to the proposal of the design of a collective voluntary insurance to cover, in some way, the losses of the poorest city residents. After analyzing the portfolios, it was possible to reveal that the cadastral value of the low-income properties was not significant when compared to the rest of the value of the private buildings of the city. This opened the possibility to consider a subsidy for the low-income socioeconomic layers, where the taxpayers who decide to subscribe to the insurance program assume the low socioeconomic layers’ pure premiums (Marulanda et al. 2008, 2014, 2016; Cardona 2009; Cardona and Marulanda 2010; Marulanda 2013).
Risk results for private buildings (tax exempt and non-exempt), with 0 and 3% deductible (Agreement 760, 2011)a in Manizales, Colombia
In order to determine the value of the insurance premium of the non-exempt tax properties, including the exempt (or exonerated) properties, with 3% deductible, it is necessary to add approximately USD 0.14 million to USD 4.41 million of the non-exempts (not exonerated), and divide this by the insurable value thereof. This value of the premium corresponds to 1.69‰, and this would be the blanket premium in case that all non-exempts (not exonerated) would participate in the insurance program. With these results the city made a call for proposals to the insurance companies to implement the new collective voluntary insurance program to cover the low-income house owners in the city from 2016.
The practical use of the results of probabilistic seismic hazard and risk models has been presented in this comprehensive case study developed for the water and sewage network and the portfolio of buildings of Manizales, Colombia. The case study shows how these models provide valuable information that can be incorporated in a direct and explicit way in decision-making processes and how these decisions can cover a large variety of aspects that range from the design of traditional insurance schemes, to the design of innovative cross (subsidized) insurance schemes (Gurenko et al. 2006; GFDRR et al. 2015), and to the use of specific materials for the replacement, update, and expansion plans of the water and sewage company, together with the update and harmonization of contingency plans.
The water and sewage network of Manizales is the first in Colombia that has been subjected to a seismic risk assessment, not only at a high-resolution detail level, but also with a fully probabilistic approach. This case also serves to show that having updated, complete, and reliable information regarding exposure yields a set of reliable results that are useful for activities that are not directly related to the daily operation of the system. The results obtained for the expected losses and after the analysis for single and specific scenarios are consistent (and within the order of magnitude) with the findings by other authors in the field (Ballantyne et al. 1991, 2002).
The regular completion, update, and improvement of exposure databases for both the water and sewage network and the public and private buildings in any city, is a high priority task for which the needed economic resources should be allocated. The two different exposure databases used in the case studies presented for Manizales were mostly developed using official information showing how data, first gathered and arranged for other purposes, is clearly useful for disaster risk identification purposes.
Future risk assessments for the water and sewage network owned and operated by Aguas de Manizales can explore the consideration of hazards of different origins (for example, flash floods, landslides, and volcanic ash fall), which can also be assessed and integrated using the same probabilistic methodological framework for the estimation of feasible losses explained in this study.
Finally, regarding the use of risk results for the collective insurance of private buildings, it is important to mention that the possibility of covering the poorest socioeconomic strata of the population and promoting, in general, the insurance culture in the city of Manizales have been targets of special interest of the municipal administration. This initiative has primarily sought a social benefit and has been promoted by the local government. Support from the national government for the replication in other parts of the country can also be possible. The benefit–cost ratio is clear from the point of view of sustainability, prevention, welfare, and socioeconomic and financial protection. It is based on technical studies made with robust risk models, but the most important elements of this initiative have been the political will, governance, citizen solidarity, and risk perception of society and government officials. This innovative instrument represents a successful experience and is a good practice promoted between local government and the private sector that could be replicated in other developing countries prone to disasters, if appropriate risk studies for implementation are made.
This work was carried out within the framework of the inter-institutional agreement between the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Manizales headquarters, and the Corporación Autónoma Regional de Caldas (Corpocaldas)—the regional environmental authority—to improve information systems for risk knowledge and understanding; monitoring of hazard events and warning systems; mainstreaming risk into planning; and to improve risk awareness in the city of Manizales, Colombia. The authors also express their gratitude to the three anonymous reviewers who contributed to improving the original version of the manuscript.
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