Seismic risk management through insurance and its sensitivity to uncertainty in the hazard model

Athanasios Gkimprixis, John Douglas, Enrico Tubaldi

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Acknowledging the devastating consequences of past earthquakes, current research efforts focus on the development of tools for assessing and controlling the risk and losses associated with future earthquakes, in addition to trying to minimize construction costs. Apart from providing a control of these levels, earthquake engineering can also provide solutions to manage the financial implications of the expected hazardous events. The first part of this article focuses on the management of the expected losses through the mechanism of transfer of the financial risk via earthquake insurance. Various insurance models are explained and applied in different case studies, and numerous analyses are performed across Europe, for a benchmark four-storey reinforced-concrete frame building. The results highlight significant variation in the premiums with seismicity, design practices and properties of the insurance model. It is crucial that any mitigation or transfer framework should use probabilistic methods to consider the uncertainties inherent in the hazard and structural response estimates. For example, different studies for the same region often indicate considerable differences in seismic hazard estimates. The uncertainty inherent in the hazard input model is transferred to and affects the results of the structural design and the performance assessment. Thus, the second part of the article investigates the impact of the epistemic uncertainty in the hazard model on the structural design and consequently the estimated future losses and risk levels, again for the benchmark building. First, a comparison is performed between the hazard data from two studies for different locations in Italy, in order to assess the possible range of variation in estimated hazard levels amongst different studies. The effects of these hazard variations on the seismic design and risk and loss metrics for the benchmark building are also investigated for these locations. Finally, a simplified approach for modelling hazard uncertainty is introduced and various sensitivity analyses are performed to investigate the effects of the hazard uncertainty across Europe. It is shown that hazard uncertainty can be of differing importance for the various involved stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1629-1657
Number of pages29
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number2
Early online date26 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2021


  • seismic risk management
  • hazard uncertainty
  • earthquake insurance premium
  • reinforced concrete buildings
  • financial loss
  • uniform hazard


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