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Risk sector prepares itself as 3,500 Chileans evacuate their homes


By now, you will have seen photographs of the erupting volcano in the Caulle Cordon region of southern Chile, which has prompted nearly 3,500 people who live nearby to evacuate their homes. 

The volcano erupted on Saturday, billowing smoke and ash high into the sky, creating a thick blanket across southern Argentina and Chile. Authorities had put the area on alert on Saturday morning, after a spell of earthquakes, and the eruption began in the afternoon.  The National Emergency Office reported an average of 230 tremors an hour.

Around 600 people were evacuated when the first alert was given, and then hundreds more followed when the eruption began. Wind then carried the ash across the Andes to the Argentine tourist town of San Carlos de Bariloche, which had to close its airport.  Many airlines have cancelled flights, up until 12th June, and the ash has also prompted authorities to close a busy border into Argentina.

It was only in February 2010 that an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.8 (making it the sixth largest ever recorded) struck the coast of Chile.  Only a month after this, Reinsurers Swiss Re and Munich Re estimated that the total payout to their clients would be $4-7 billion dollars. RSA estimated its own earthquake payout to be around £30m. 

Earlier this year, Aon produced the report 'Chile: One Year On' .The report highlights how the earthquake tested the reinsurance market, and outlined steps for insurers to prepare for future catastrophes.  The report gives the excellent news that over 95% of personal lines claims and 80% of commercial claims have been paid and closed, allowing the people of Chile to rebuild their lives.

Of course, natural disasters are not restricted to Chile.  Devastating tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and hurricane season have seen insurers bracing themselves for record claims in 2011.  Colleagues in the US insurance market have estimated that they will be supporting their clients to the tune of $55 billion this year, due in part to the earthquake, tsunami and post-event damage in Japan. To find out how the Risk sector helped the people of Japan click here.

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