An earthquake near Vancouver, British Columbia, could ignite hundreds of fires and cause $10 billion (Canadian dollars) of property damage. This amount is over and above shaking damage. So finds our Dr. Charles Scawthorn in a new study sponsored and published by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR). (Links here for video, executive summary, and full report.)

These earthquake are inevitable. Scawthorn considered five earthquakes. One was an expected magnitude-9 earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. That earthquake and several closer, smaller ones, are inevitable. Most of the buildings shown here will exist and be full of people when, not if, these earthquakes occur. Insurers will bear most of the property losses. If the risk is not reduced before then, a leading global reinsurer thinks the losses would bankrupt some insurers. The insurance bankruptcies could lead to financial contagion.

How to reduce the risk. The earthquakes are inevitable. The losses and bankruptcies are not. SPA and ICLR are helping firefighters, City of Vancouver officials, provincial officials, engineers, and others understand three ways to reduce the damage and suffering. They are:

  1. Seismic gas shutoff valves. Require that all gas meters have seismic gas shutoff valves.
  2. Portable water supply systems. Integrate portable water supply systems in every fire department.
  3. Secondary water supply. Add tanks with a 30-minute supply of firefighting water to all high-rise buildings.

Learn more. Dr. Scawthorn presented his results to an audience of insurers, firefighters, and emergency managers on November 13, 2020. Watch the video here. The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction sponsored and published Scawthorn’s analysis. Read a brief (4-page) executive summary of the report here or here, or find the full report here or here. For more information, feel free to reach out to us.