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GEM and Descartes Underwriting announce partnership aiming to revolutionize parametric approach to earthquake risk


Nov 18, 2021

Photo credit: @rhidabels

  • By strengthening both organizations’ understanding of earthquake risk, the collaboration seeks to benefit the global earthquake risk management community while supporting fair and transparent parametric insurance structures

  • Descartes’ experience from different specialized markets and expertise from its scientific team will aid model improvement and advance earthquake risk assessment at global, regional, and local levels

18 November, 2021 - Descartes Underwriting, the largest independent parametric insurance provider, has established a partnership with the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation, an international public-private partnership committed to the development of open-source hazard and risk assessment software, tools and data. The GEM Foundation also centers on the application of science to understanding and managing earthquake risk on a global scale.

The collaboration aims to accelerate the ‘data to resilience’ continuum by leveraging the state-of-the-art technology behind Descartes’ parametric insurance solutions and GEM’s open, transparent and collaborative approach to earthquake risk analysis at the global, regional, national and local levels.

Earthquakes, which made up only 8% of all disasters in the last 20 years, are the deadliest of all sudden disaster events. The peril constitutes one of the top causes of economic disruption and of disaster deaths due to building collapse. Exposure impacts and global ripple effects have been further aggravated in the past decade, where less than one-fifth of all earthquake losses globally were covered by insurance. The collaboration between GEM and Descartes Underwriting seeks to increase the uptake of earthquake insurance and reduce the protection gap in underserved sectors and regions of the world. The joint partnership also supports continued development of fair and transparent parametric insurance structures that ultimately reduce basis risk and bolster resilience for policyholders.

“This partnership will provide a framework for both organizations to work together in developing high resolution and scientifically robust earthquake hazard and risk data to meet the needs of public and private sectors for customized and more affordable earthquake insurance products. Our combined efforts can also contribute to better earthquake risk understanding worldwide and better earthquake insurance coverage.” – John Schneider, GEM Secretary General.

GEM’s array of earthquake hazard, exposure and vulnerability models as well as OpenQuake software tools can be used to simulate the seismic behavior of buildings, lifelines and critical facilities. In particular, it allows for the assessment of the probability of earthquakes occurring, and the consequent  physical damage and economic loss, essential information for implementing a wide range of risk reduction and transfer mechanisms, including parametric insurance.

“Partnering with GEM marks a milestone for both organizations and plays a critical role in providing the next generation of earthquake parametric insurance to clients worldwide. Through frictionless and transparent payouts following seismic events, our joint efforts will be instrumental in reducing the earthquake protection gap around the globe” - says Kevin Dedieu, Co-founder and Head of R&D, Descartes Underwriting.

About Descartes Underwriting

Offering a new generation of technology-driven parametric insurance, Descartes collaborates with brokers to protect their corporate and public sector clients against the full spectrum of natural catastrophe and extreme weather exposures, including earthquake. Descartes’ covers are uniquely designed to supplement gaps left by traditional insurance, providing cost-effective and fully transparent products that guarantee liquidity via swift and direct payout. Born out of the conviction that climate change calls for a revolutionary approach to insurance, Descartes is structured as an MGA backed by a panel of tier-one risk carriers and can provide $200M USD in capacity per policy. Headquartered in Paris, Descartes Underwriting provides parametric solutions to clients globally from its offices based in Singapore, Sydney, New York, Houston, and London. For more information, please visit

Media Contact:

Meg Chaperon -Senior Product Marketing & PR Officer, Descartes Underwriting 

About GEM Foundation

GEM was formed in 2009 as a non-profit foundation in Pavia, Italy, funded through a public-private sponsorship with the vision to create a world that is resilient to earthquakes. GEM is funded by public and private institutions globally, and is advised by many international organizations (

GEM is also recognized by the UN as an NGO, operating under UN guidelines for a humanitarian organization. GEM’s mission is to become one of the world’s most complete sources of risk resources and a globally accepted standard for earthquake risk assessment. Further, GEM aims to ensure that its products are applied broadly in disaster risk management/reduction and its services are available and accessible to public, private and academic institutions worldwide.

Media Contact:

Jephraim Oro - Communications and Web Manager, GEM Foundation

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