Catastrophe risk modeller Karen Clark & Company (KCC) has estimated that insured losses from the M7.2 earthquake that hit Haiti last week will be around $250 million.
However, with insurable, or economic, losses estimated at around $1.7 billion, only around 14.7% of the overall cost of the quake will be covered by insurance, KCC says, highlighting the extent of the protection gap in the country.
The quake caused widespread damage and casualties after rupturing on August 14th on Haiti’s southwest peninsula 78 miles west of the capital city, Port-au-Prince.
Analysts note that buildings in this region were highly vulnerable to the strong ground motions near the rupture, with numerous hotels and churches destroyed on the southwestern coast, including in Les Cayes, a major seaport.
To the northwest, the roof of a cathedral and many other buildings collapsed in Jeremie, a coastal commune which sustained extensive damage, and some shaking was felt in the capital of Port-auPrince, although no significant damage has been reported there.
Tens of thousands of people were left homeless by the quake, and current figures put deaths at 1,419 and injuries at 6,900, although many people in the affected areas still remain missing.
Rescue work has also been hampered by heavy rains from Tropical Storm Grace, which is tracking over the island today and could trigger landslides as it brings an estimated 25cm of rain to some regions.
And the disaster could not come at a worse time for Haiti, which is still in turmoil following the assassination of its president last month.
KCC notes that the island of Hispaniola, which includes Haiti and Dominican Republic, is no stranger to devastating quakes, having experienced twelve M6.0 and larger and four M7.0 and larger earthquakes since 1900.
The deadliest was the 2010 earthquake which killed more than 200,000 people and caused extensive damage to the country’s infrastructure and economy.