20110314 a woman yells japan 54
A woman calls out the names of her family in the city of Soma in Miyagi prefecture. - 


JEREMY HOBSON: When you add it all up, the Japan quake could cost insurers nearly $35 billion. That would make it one of the most expensive disasters ever, according to risk analysts AIR Worldwide. And that doesn't even take the tsunami damage into account.

Global insurers based in London are already calculating their losses, as Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports.

STEPHEN BEARD: The estimated maximum cost of $35 billion would make this the second most expensive disaster -- after Hurricane Katrina -- for forty years. But one London-based analyst thinks the cost to the international insurance industry will be much less than expected.

James Shuck of Jeffiries International says the Japanese tend to insure themselves.

JAMES SHUCK: The international players have less market share in Japan. A lot more of the insurance exposures are held by the domestic players. The role of the state is much greater.

The cost to the international insurance industry will be much lower than expected, he says, because under Japanese law, the government is required to pick up most of the tab for earthquake damage to nuclear facilities.

In London I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.