Losses from the quake, tsunami and fires will total at least $100 billion, including $20 billion in damage to residences and $40 billion in damage to infrastructure such as roads, rail and port facilities, catastrophe modeling firm Eqecat estimated.
Another firm, AIR Worldwide, estimated that losses covered by insurance could reach between $15 billion and $35 billion from the earthquake alone. It did not estimate losses from the tsunami or the damage to the the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan.
According to AIR, the number of Japanese businesses and homeowners with earthquake insurance is relatively low, ranging between 14% to 17%. As a result, the total financial toll for the catastrophe could be considerably higher than the estimate of insured losses.
In the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, the most expensive in history, total losses were $100 billion but insured losses only $3 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
By comparison, the 1994 quake in Northridge, Calif., northwest of Los Angeles, had the highest tally of insured losses ever — $15.3 billion. In today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation, that comes to insured losses of $22.7 billion.
The Insurance Information Institute said it believes the losses from Friday’s disaster will prove to be the most expensive earthquake in history, although it did not give any dollar estimate of the costs.