[Skip to content]

Sign up for our daily newsletter
The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

100 years after San Francisco

Swiss Re announced on 17 January the release of A shake in insurance history – the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. This research publication was created to mark the centennial year of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, an event that altered the course of the insurance industry and has become a milestone in the annals of natural disasters. The publication was released on this date to also mark the date of two other significant earthquakes that occurred on 17 January: the 1995 Kobe, Japan earthquake and the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake.

The 1906 earthquake helped lay the foundation for modern insurance – it spurred an abundance of scientific and engineering research, led to many insurance precedents, and challenged prevalent risk perceptions. In the years following the event, many findings from seismology experts were utilised by the insurance industry for earthquake risk evaluation and claim estimation. This collaboration evolved into today’s sophisticated earthquake risk-management tools used by insurers, reinsurers, and others. The current insurance landscape is also explored in this publication, including the risk-management challenges faced today, as well as risk mitigation, disaster planning, economics, culture, and new solutions such as catastrophe bonds and other additional sources of risk capital. Find out more at www.swissre.com.