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Initial assessment of the Turkey-Syria earthquakes


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    On 6 and 7 February, a series of severe earthquakes struck southeastern Turkey close to the border with Syria. The two most severe shocks reached magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5 according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). They were the most severe earthquakes to hit Turkey in decades. Many thousands of people died, and an enormous number of buildings were destroyed completely. Northern Syria was also very badly affected. The devastation caused by the earthquakes moved us all deeply. Our hearts are with the loved ones of those who lost their lives and the injured.

    Turkey and neighbouring countries are highly exposed to earthquake hazards due to two active plate boundaries, the East Anatolian and the North Anatolian Fault Zones. The recent quakes occurred on the East Anatolian Fault, where the Anatolian block is pushed westward by the collision of the Eurasian and the Arabian plates. Furthermore, the current events again showed the high vulnerability of the Turkish building stock.

    In Turkey, after the 1999 earthquakes in Izmit and Düzce with more than 17,000 fatalities, an insurance pool was established by law in 2000 to mandatorily cover residential buildings against earthquake damage – the Turkish Catastrophe Insurance Pool (TCIP). As a result, the insurance density to cover homeowners against earthquake damage has increased to more than 50% countrywide.

    The sum insured is currently limited to TL 640,000 (€32,000) per dwelling. International insurers and reinsurers are covering the lion’s share of the pool. Munich Re has been a long-standing partner of the TCIP and is also currently participating in the reinsurance programme.

    Reliable estimates of the overall losses from the devastating earthquakes are not yet possible, nor for the insured losses. It is also still unclear which of the destroyed buildings are actually insured under the TCIP.

    Catastrophe pools like the one in Turkey are a useful way for many countries highly exposed to natural disasters to provide affordable insurance protection against the financial losses from a disaster. In addition, the construction of buildings in high-risk areas needs to become resilient enough to better protect people during disasters.

    Update from 24 February 2023

    It is expected that the earthquakes caused losses in the mid-three-digit million euro range for Munich Re; this estimate remains subject to substantial uncertainty.

    For Media inquiries please contact
    Stefan Straub
    Stefan Straub
    Head of Group Media Relations
    Axel Rakette
    Axel Rakette
    Irmgard Joas
    Irmgard Joas