Willis Becomes First Broker To Sponsor OECD's Global Earthquake Model


Support of GEM Initiative Aimed at Addressing Earthquake Risk Worldwide

London, UK (CompNewsNetwork) - Willis Group Holdings (NYSE:WSH), the global insurance broker, is sponsoring the Global Earthquake Model (GEM), a five-year initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to produce the world's first earthquake model with comprehensive and consistent coverage around the world - including in developing countries where no reliable models exist today.  Willis is the first re-insurance broker to support GEM, joining its Governing Board whose members include Munich Re and other industry leaders.

Over half a million people died in the past decade due to earthquakes and tsunamis, mostly in the developing world, where the risk is increasing due to rapid population growth.  But in many seismic regions, no hazard models exist, creating significant barriers to awareness, risk mitigation and emergency response.

GEM is an open source global earthquake model that creates an independent standard to calculate and communicate earthquake risk, raise awareness, promote mitigation, and stimulate insurance and risk sharing.

"GEM is a vital and important project to confront seismic risk and we are delighted to be a part of it," said Rowan Douglas, Managing Director, Willis Re and Chairman of the Willis Research Network. "This model is the key to saving lives, guiding public policy, protecting property and liberating capital - from national catastrophe pools to micro-insurance to finance this risk."

GEM will also bring significant benefits to seismic risk management in the US and other developed economies.

Julie Serakos, Executive Vice President, Willis Re, added, "The science that GEM generates will be made available to all: from emergency response managers in remote seismic regions to catastrophe modelling companies looking to further refine certain aspects of their models, to insurance companies and governments looking for solutions to manage the financial implications of major earthquakes.  GEM creates a consistent view of risk that will allow all groups to work together on effective solutions for a given region."

As part of its sponsorship of the GEM initiative, Willis will contribute scientific research into seismic risk through its Willis Research Network (WRN), the world's largest collaboration between academia and the insurance industry to provide cutting-edge research into catastrophe risks.  Leading members of the world's seismic risk academic community belong to the WRN, which supports research in seismic risk reduction by university-based WRN Fellows.  Willis' commitment to GEM includes access to these teams, and integration and coordination of relevant WRN research programmes.

"The combination of financial, academic and commercial resources provided by Willis creates a strong fit and is a major contribution to GEM's mission.  We are delighted to welcome Willis to GEM," said Ross Stein of the U.S. Geological Survey and one of GEM's founders. "Willis is unique in its strong support of non-proprietary academic research. They have built a powerhouse network of scientists and Fellows in seismic risk science whose contribution will profoundly strengthen GEM."

"The Global Earthquake Model exemplifies the best in Open Risk Analysis - that is, transparent, openly accessible data, methods and tools for assessing earthquake hazard and potential losses. Open Risk Analysis is the foundation underpinning all risk reduction of natural hazards, whether by global institutions such as the World Bank and major insurers, or by local villagers," said Charles Scawthorn, Professor (ret.) and former head of the Earthquake Disaster Systems Laboratory of Kyoto University (Japan), a WRN Senior Academic, and a leading GEM contributor.

GEM is seen as another significant example of the deepening collaboration between academia and the insurance industry to confront major challenges of risk.

"The GEM Project is an excellent opportunity to bring together the many advances in earthquake loss modelling which have been developed in the academic community in recent years, and to apply them to the needs of earthquake risk communities and their insurers worldwide," said Emeritus Professor Robin Spence of the University of Cambridge and a member of the WRN.

The Willis Research Network (WRN) is the world's largest partnership between academia and the insurance industry. Willis has so far teamed up with fifteen leading institutions across a full range of disciplines from atmospheric science and climate statistics, to geography, hydrology and seismology, to the impacts on the environment via engineering, exposure analysis and Geographic Information Systems. Additional information can be found at www.willisresearchnetwork.com

Willis Group Holdings Limited is a leading global insurance broker, developing and delivering professional insurance, reinsurance, risk management, financial and human resource consulting and actuarial services to corporations, public entities and institutions around the world.  Willis has more than 400 offices in nearly 120 countries, with a global team of approximately 20,000 Associates serving clients in some 190 countries.  Additional information on Willis may be found at www.willis.com.

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