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Canada’s new earthquake science: Learning from loss models


Mar 26, 2021

The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) recently organized a webinar and invited leaders from the loss modeling community to present and discuss their views about seismic risk in Canada.

Participants from RMS, AIR, CoreLogic and NRCan presented their estimates of the expected consequences of a catastrophic earthquake and participated in a discussion about the differences in the findings between the models.

More than 200 participants with an interest in Canadian catastrophe risk participated from across sectors including insurance and risk finance, government, and academia.

This workshop really brought together insurers, government policy makers and researchers to look at what the latest earthquake risk science is telling us about Canada, and to determine how to manage it from public and private perspectives." Paul Kovacs, ICLR Director.

The webinar tackled three current issues – preparedness for extreme earthquake hazards, new science anticipating increased shaking, and analysis of the risk of fire following a major earthquake. For the first time, Canadian earthquake modelers across public and private sectors came together to discuss how models support action to manage and address these issues.

In a panel led by ICLR Director Paul Kovacs, Lori Medders (Professor of Insurance, Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, USA) and GEM Secretary General John Schneider closed the meeting with a conversation about the importance of loss models in serving the public interest and how important transparent and open models and methodologies are to gaining trust and managing risk.

“For GEM, I think the open approach has been fundamental in developing partnerships, and in developing the capacity to do hazard and risk assessments across sectors and stakeholder groups.” John said.

He added that “Ultimately it has greatly accelerated the transition from research to application and has broadened the scope of applications. We're fast tracking research directly into models and their use. As we've seen in the presentations today on the development of Canadian earthquake risk models, information is being taken up and digested very quickly if it's openly available.”

About ICLR

The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), is a world-class center for multi-disciplinary disaster prevention research and communication. ICLR was established by Canada’s property and casualty (p&c) insurance industry as an independent, not-for-profit research institute affiliated with Western University.

ICLR has been leading a conversation about the new science about earthquakes in Canada. The 2020 Canadian seismic hazard model predicts much stronger shaking than the 2015 model and ICLR research shows that the risk of extensive fire damage following an earthquake also increases. Models help insurers and other decision makers understand the evolving knowledge about earthquakes.

For more information about ICLR, visit

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