Willis Re Unveils First Japan Tsunami Model

LONDON, Dec. 2, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Willis Re, the reinsurance division of Willis Group Holdings (NYSE:WSH), the global risk adviser, insurance and reinsurance broker, today released a new Japan Tsunami Model to advance the industry's understanding of catastrophic tsunami losses. Developed in-house alongside the Willis Research Network, it is the first tsunami model with probabilistic and deterministic modelling functionsi to be created by a broker.

The new model combines tsunami loss information with earthquake shaking damage output. It provides both Willis Re and its clients the latest intelligence to quantify and manage risk from these extreme events, where historically losses have been little understood.

William Thompson, Regional Director for Willis Re Japan, explained: "The tragedies of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and the tsunami that followed the Tokohu earthquake in 2011 plainly illustrated how damaging these catastrophes can be. They highlighted the need to better understand and quantify the risks from secondary perils.

"Japan earthquake risk has been rigorously investigated and modelled but the complexity of modelling tsunami has led to a significant gap in the industry's ability to quantify risk for severe earthquake events. The Willis Japan Tsunami Model is another vital step towards closing this gap and providing Willis Re clients with the most comprehensive view of risk."

Through the Willis Research Network, Willis Re has worked closely with Tohoku University and UCL on the model since 2010.

Rowan Douglas, Chairman of the Willis Research Network, said: "The Willis Japan Tsunami Model demonstrates how the Willis Research Network can harness the expertise of leading academics to meet the direct needs of the industry. By combining academic excellence with in-house analytics and market expertise we have developed an independent model whilst also being in a unique position to analyse the new tools that are now emerging from model vendors."

Professor Fumihiko Imamura, Director of Tohoku University's International Research Institute of Disaster Science ("IRIDeS"), said: "IRIDeS is proud to have researched tsunami hazard and risk management since 2010 in partnership with Willis Re through the Willis Research Network. Our partnership is rooted in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake where there were significant losses of life and property caused by the resultant tsunami. This was followed by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, and the real possibility of a Tonankai-Nankai mega-thrust earthquake, which could result in unprecedented losses relating to tsunami.

"To date we have conducted research into a variety of related research fields, including tsunami data collection and tsunami simulation, as well as the development of tsunami hazard maps and vulnerability function. We hope that the outcome of this research will be able to foster greater tsunami risk management and disaster prevention in the future."

Tiziana Rossetto, Director of EPICentre, UCL, said: "We, at EPICentre, are proud to have worked with Willis Re for several years on the development of the tsunami model. Our focus has been on the development of the vulnerability model, linking tsunami intensity with mean damage and loss. There are significant obstacles to estimating tsunami losses due to limited availability of data for low-frequency/high-severity events. The current tsunami vulnerability model utilizes rigorous statistical analysis of detailed data from the 2011 Japan Tsunami, resulting in a model which represents the state-of-the-art in estimating losses per building due to tsunamis.

"Over the coming years we are utilizing detailed analysis and unique testing facilities, able to generate the longest tsunami-like waves of any facility in the world, to better represent the behaviour of structures under tsunami action. This is enabling us to remain at the forefront of vulnerability analysis for locations at-risk of tsunamis around the world."

About Willis Re

One of the world's leading reinsurance brokers, Willis Re is known for its world-class Analytics capabilities, which it combines with its Reinsurance expertise in a seamless, integrated offering that can help clients increase the value of their businesses. Willis Re serves the risk management and risk transfer needs of a diverse, global client base that includes all of the world's top insurance and reinsurance carriers as well as national catastrophe schemes in many countries around the world. The broker's global team of experts offers services and advice that can help clients make better reinsurance decisions and negotiate optimum terms. For more information, visit www.willisre.com.

About the Willis Research Network

Based in London, led and sponsored by Willis, a global insurance broker and risk adviser, the Willis Research Network was formed in 2006 to integrate science, insurance and resilience at a scale never before envisaged. It has become the world's largest collaboration between public science and the financial sector with a membership of around fifty leading research institutions. The WRN enables the risk and (re)insurance sector to confront the challenges of managing risk and delivering resilience within environmental systems, financial markets and public policy. Additional information can be found at www.willisresearchnetwork.com.

About Willis

Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global risk adviser, insurance and reinsurance broker. With roots dating to 1828, Willis operates today on every continent with more than 18,000 employees in over 400 offices. Willis offers its clients superior expertise, teamwork, innovation and market-leading products and professional services in risk management and transfer. Our experts rank among the world's leading authorities on analytics, modelling and mitigation strategies at the intersection of global commerce and extreme events. Find more information at our website,www.willis.com, our leadership journal, Resilience, or our up-to-the-minute blog on breaking news, WillisWire. Across geographies, industries and specialisms, Willis provides its local and multinational clients with resilience for a risky world.

About Tohoku University International Research Institute of Disaster Science

Having experienced the catastrophic disaster in 2011, Tohoku University has founded the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS). Together with collaborating organizations from many countries and with broad areas of specializations, the IRIDeS conducts world-leading research on natural disaster science and disaster mitigation. Based on the lessons from the 2011 Great East Japan (Tohoku) earthquake and tsunami disaster, IRIDeS aims to become a world centre for the study of the disasters and disaster mitigation, learning from and building upon past lessons in disaster management from Japan and around the world. Throughout, the IRIDeS will contribute to on-going recovery/reconstruction efforts in the affected areas, conducting action-oriented research, and pursuing effective disaster management to build sustainable and resilient societies, the IRIDeS innovates the past paradigm of Japan's and world's disaster management to catastrophic natural disasters, hence to become a foundation stone of disaster mitigation management and sciences. For more information visit: http://irides.tohoku.ac.jp/eng/.

About UCL EPICentre

EPICentre was founded in 2007 and is a dynamic multidisciplinary research group that investigates risk to society and infrastructure from earthquakes and other natural hazards. EPICentre research projects adopt a range of methods from the physical sciences, engineering, remote sensing and social sciences. Read More.

EPICentre is part of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE) at UCL but also comprises academics and researchers from the Departments of Psychology and Mechanical Engineering. It runs an MSc in Earthquake Engineering with Disaster Management, has strong international and industrial links, and is a member of the Willis Research Network (WRN). EPICentre members are active in the UK Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics (SECED) and the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT). For more information, visit: http://www.epicentreonline.com/.

i Deterministic models consider the potential loss from one or more specified event without attempting to quantify the probability of these events occurring.

Probabilistic models consider typically a much larger number of possible events and estimate the rate (probability) of these events occurring, which enables the user to consider the probability of a loss exceeding different loss thresholds.

CONTACT: Media: Laura Molloy +44 20 3124 8555 Email: Laura.Molloy@willis.com Investors: Peter Poillon +1 212 915 8084 Email: Peter.Poillon@willis.com

Source:Willis Group Holdings