Ten years from the Great East Japan Earthquake (translation)

Mr. Shinichi Hirose, Chairman
The General Insurance Association of Japan (GIAJ)

I wish to express my deepest condolences to the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake and extend my sincerest sympathies to those who have been affected.

Ten years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. It was literally an unprecedented disaster in which the number of casualties and missing totaled 22,288, and 121,996 houses were destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami.

We, the general insurance industry, made every effort to make prompt insurance claims payments to those affected by the disaster. As a result, about 1 trillion Yen was paid in the first 3 months after the earthquake. In our effort to help the restoration and reconstruction of the affected areas and rebuild the lives of the people affected, the number of cases and the claims paid totaled 821,205 cases and 1,286.2 billion Yen respectively.

In addition, leveraging the experience and lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake, we have worked to revise the earthquake insurance scheme, simplify the damage assessment procedures, establish the 'General Insurance Contracts Inquiry System for Natural Disasters', etc. in the last 10 years. In addition, we have made efforts to promote earthquake insurance to improve its market penetration.

The general insurance industry has as its mission to support customers "in their times of need". It is also essential to pass on the experiences and knowledge of the earthquake and to prevent the memories of disasters from fading. We will continue to engage in various initiatives, including the promotion of earthquake insurance, so that we can serve as many customers as possible and fulfill our mission should another large-scale earthquake hit Japan someday.

~Work of GIAJ in the past 10 years~

(1)Revision of the earthquake insurance scheme

In order to make earthquake insurance claims payments better reflect actual damage incurred while ensuring prompt payment, we revised the damage levels from the previous 3 levels (total loss, half loss, partial loss) to 4 levels (total loss, major half loss, minor half loss, partial loss). Also, to encourage quake resilient buildings, we increased the discount rates for quake proof building discount and quake resistant discount (3rd and 2nd degrees). Furthermore, in order to strengthen the earthquake insurance scheme, the aggregate payment limit has been increased, which was 5.5 trillion Yen limit at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake and is currently 11.7 trillion Yen.

(2)Increasing efficiency of claims processing

To provide prompt and accurate insurance payments in the event of a major earthquake, we have also worked to streamline the claims process. Damage assessment of earthquake insurance requires an on-site survey in principle, but for major earthquakes, we have widely introduced a “damage declaration method (self-declaration method)” where customers can declare their damage without a survey.
GIAJ has also developed an “Earthquake App” to electronically produce an earthquake damage survey report. We are utilizing this app for on-site surveys to enable prompt and accurate insurance payments.
In 2020, we introduced a “earthquake insurance joint survey efficacy tool” to efficiently carry out joint surveys to determine total loss areas, and also a “real-time tsunami water incursion and loss estimation system,” and continue our efforts to more quickly grasp the extent of loss.

(3)Creation of Contracts Inquiry Systems

At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, we created the “Contracts Inquiry System for Earthquake Insurance” and made inquiries to our member companies for customers who were unsure of their insurers or lost their insurance policies. Starting July 1st, 2014, we created the “General Insurance Contracts Inquiry System for Natural Disasters” and expanded the scope to include customer inquiries for not only earthquakes but wind and water disasters where the Disaster Relief Act is applied.

(4)Our work to further promote earthquake insurance

GIAJ has been working to ①Promote consumers’ understanding through various media outlets, ②Cooperate with disaster prevention activities in regions across Japan, and ③Supporting agents’ sales activities. During this tenth year after the Great East Japan Earthquake, we are widely spreading the message that earthquake insurance is an essential cover to resume daily life after a disaster with the catch-phrase “Make this milestone year a chance to review your coverage.”