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The Natural Catastrophe Protection Gap: Measurement, Root Causes and Ways of Addressing Underinsurance for Extreme Events

  • Thomas Holzheu
  • Ginger Turner
Article

Abstract

The global property protection gap in natural catastrophe risk has widened steadily over the past 40 years. In historical terms, we find that most underinsurance of extreme events is for climate-related events such as flood and windstorm, but in expected terms, earthquakes comprise the largest share of underinsurance. Using a framework to define the protection gap in historical and expected terms, this paper breaks down the gap by geography and risk type and presents an empirical analysis of the key drivers of the gap. First, uninsured expected Cat losses are estimated using models that combine geophysical vulnerability maps, economic exposure data and insurance market information. Second, each country’s expected (or optimal) property insurance penetration is modelled and compared to actual penetration to derive a measure of property underinsurance. Third, we explore the factors that affect property insurance demand, applying regression analysis to an unbalanced panel data set that includes 53 countries observed over a 15-year period. Several significant economic, financial market, sociodemographic, cultural and institutional variables are identified. The results lead to a taxonomy of the root causes of underinsurance and a set of proposed measures to narrow the protection gap.

Keywords

catastrophic losses catastrophe modelling insurability property insurance protection gap underinsurance 

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Copyright information

© The International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swiss Reinsurance AmericasArmonkUSA
  2. 2.Swiss Reinsurance Management LtdZurichSwitzerland

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