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Earthquake not expected to trigger cat bond

Natural disaster: rescuers search destroyed houses following Wednesday’s earthquake in Italy. The Azzurro Re cat bond is not expected to be triggered (Photograph by Gregorio Borgia/AP)

The deadly earthquake that struck the Umbria region of Italy this week is not expected to trigger the Azzurro Re catastrophe bond.

More than 240 people were killed when the 6.2-magnitude quake hit the area, 65 miles northeast of Rome, on Wednesday morning.

The towns and municipalities of Amatrice, Aruata and Accumoli were among those most severely hit by the quake, which struck near the city of Norica.

The Azzurro Re bond was the first indemnity-trigger catastrophe bond primarily for Italian earthquake risk. It was launched in August 2015 by Willis Capital Markets & Advisory and insurer UnipolSai Assicurazioni.

The bond, which has 200 million euro ($226 million) of fully-collateralised protection, was structured and placed by Willis Capital Markets in collaboration with Willis Re.

Reuters has reported that a spokesman for Unipol said this week’s quake was not expected to trigger the bond.

The relatively rural nature of the Umbria region and Azzurro Re’s low exposure to the area have been cited as reasons why the bond is unlikely to be triggered.

Azzurro Re is also part of the portfolio of the Plenum CAT Bond Fund. In a statement, Swiss-based Plenum Investments AG said: “The risk profile of the bond is very conservative. None of the strongest earthquakes of the last 160 years would have triggered a damage payment.

“UnipolSai writes very little business in the affected region. The greatest risk comes from the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto.”

The last earthquake of a similar strength in Italy was the L’Aquila event in 2009.

Plenum noted: “The devastating L’Aquila earthquake in 2009 caused damage of less than 2 per cent of the amount that would be required to initiate a claims payment.

“Based on the information currently available, the level of damage from the current event lies far below that of the L’Aquila quake. Therefore, we expect no negative influence on the performance of the bonds potentially affected and the Plenum CAT Bond Funds.”