Departmental Bulletin Paper Earthquake insurance and post-disaster housing in the case of canterbury earthquakes in new zealand

Otani, Junko

2pp.1 - 20 , 2016-03 , Graduate School of Human Sciences
The Canterbury earthquake, which struck New Zealand on February 22nd, 2011 took 186 lives. Of this number, 28 were Japanese overseas students. Looking simply at the number of casualties, this may appear to have been a minor earthquake which seems incomparable with respect to other major earthquakes. However, this was one of the most violent and costly earthquakes recorded in recent years. This was also major one in a regional context. The situation was grave: this earthquake caused the collapse of the Christchurch Cathedral, a symbolic landmark of the region, and dealt a blow to local economic activities due to devastating damage throughout the city’s central area. There were also ongoing aftershocks and damage to residences due to liquefaction. Now (as of August 2013), over two years after the earthquake, citizens are still troubled with uncertainty about the future, and the whole region has become exhausted. The earthquake has brought about damage to people that cannot be mea¬sured from the number of casualties alone.This paper will discuss two aspects of disaster recovery in the earthquake-struck area in Christchurch, New Zealand that have set it apart from disaster areas in other countries: firstly the issue of national insurance, and secondly, the absence of tempo¬rary housing. According to data provided by reinsurance companies, the amount of loss compensation paid out after the Canterbury Earthquake surpasses the amount after other earthquakes worldwide—even those that caused tens of thousands of fatalities. This is due to the extremely high coverage ratio of the natural disaster insurance, which is over 90%. On the other hand, it became apparent that the time taken up by insurance-related negotiations and procedures was in fact delaying housing reconstruction. Furthermore, there is almost no temporary housing of thevariety built in disaster areas in places such as Japan. Although provision of tempo¬rary housing is extremely limited, there is generous official aid offered to the victims. This is the particular nature of the disaster recovery after the Canterbury earthquake.

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