Life insurance observers are trying to get a little more methodical at estimating how much the Tohoku earthquakes and resulting tsunamis might cost life and health insurers.
Japanese officials have confirmed that more than 3,600 people have died as a result of the devastating Great Tohoku Earthquake that hit Northeastern Japan Friday, the many other earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.0 or greater that have struck since the first earthquake, and the tsunamis caused by the earthquakes. More than 7,500 people are still missing, and many of the survivors inadequate food, water and shelter.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, Tokyo, has been trying to get nuclear reactors in Fukushima under control. Japanese authorities have advised people who live within 20 kilometers of the reactors to evacuate and residents who live 20 to 30 kilometers from the plant to stay inside when they can, avoid contact with rain or snow, and dust themselves off carefully before returning home when they must go outside.
In Kitaibaraki City, a community in the Ibaraki prefecture, residents have been getting about 5 micrograys of radiation (or 5 millionths of a gray) per hour. according to prefectural officials. That exposure is equivalent to getting a chest X-ray every 10 hours. Mild radiation poisoning can occur if someone absorbs 0.3 grays of radiation in a short period.
Japan Credit Rating Agency Ltd., says in a comment on the crisis that it will need time to assess how well life company’s risk management programs held up. Earthquake-related drops in stock prices have reduced the companies’ unrealized gains on equity investments, and that could impose some constraints, the agency says.
John Nadel and Dennis Zavolock, analysts in the New York office of Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc., have tried to dig into Japanese market reports and insurance company filings to gather basic Japanese life market data.