The flood of lava from the La Palma volcano continues its slow and relentless advance. Along the way, the lava already extends over more than 166 hectares and has engulfed 350 buildings, infrastructures and crops. Meanwhile, neighbors, authorities, firefighters and associations try to safeguard their belongings and animals. Some 6,000 people remain evicted, and hundreds of families have lost their homes forever. The question is inevitable: Now what?
President Pedro Sánchez has announced that he will declare La Palma a “catastrophic zone” and also a series of immediate actions, such as aid to provide housing or acquire necessary belongings and objects to the people affected by the volcano, and other more long-term “reconstruction “, with a decree law with measures and provision of resources for urban environments destroyed by lava flows.
For its part, the Canary Islands Government has already announced the imminent purchase of 73 homes for those affected by the catastrophe, and at the beginning of the week the President of the Government of the Canary Islands explained that he is preparing “a draft decree law that allows us to requalify the land and rebuild the houses. ” Beyond whether or not this is feasible or the relocation of the evicted population, those affected have another specific element for this type of situation: the Insurance Compensation Consortium (CCS).
This public entity was created in 1941 to support insurance companies after the Civil War, and currently depends on the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In its 80 years of life, the CCS has provided economic coverage after events that private insurers do not cover. For example, natural disasters such as floods, storms, earthquakes and even the fall of aeroliths, and also other human disasters, such as losses caused by terrorism or by police actions in peacetime.
In the last 50 years, the Consortium has handled nearly 1.7 million files for different reasons, for a total value of more than 11,000 million euros. As shown in the table above, the events that have involved the highest amounts are not necessarily those that have led to the greatest number of claims, and vice versa. For example, in 1982, 46 files were registered due to terrorism, however, each of them had an average value of 1.2 million euros.
Compensation for volcanic eruption for the first time
The last terrestrial volcanic eruption – that of El Hierro in 2011 was underwater – took place in 1971. It was the Teneguía volcano, also on the island of La Palma, but, unlike the current one, “that eruption did not cause material damage to insured goods, “sources from the Insurance Compensation Consortium comment to elDiario.es. “The Consortium only compensates the damages when they affect a good (housing, commerce, industry, vehicle, infrastructures …), and in the case of Teneguía it did not affect any (insured or not, it was a depopulated area)”.
“Given that in the case of 1971 there was no damage to assets, the Consortium did not intervene. In reality, this will be the first time that we pay damages for volcanic eruption, which is one of the risks contemplated in the Extraordinary Risks Insurance and that, therefore, they have the automatic coverage of the Consortium “, explain these same sources. The organism you have already received the first 40 requests for compensation as a result of the volcanic eruption damage of the La Palma volcano.
Of all the “extraordinary events” contemplated by the Consortium, floods and atypical cyclonic storms (TCA) are the main phenomena for which they have opened files and for which they have compensated since the 70s. According to the entity’s data, the floods have accounted for 46% of the files and 65% of the total of all the compensation money of the last half century. The extreme storms represent 48% of the files and 19% of the compensations.
In 2009, Cyclone Klaus shook northern Spain. Galicia and Catalonia were the most affected regions, and 14 people died as a result of explosive cyclogenesis. The historical data of the Consortium place that temporary as the second largest event in terms of total amount of compensation, since 1977. Specifically, the CSS received more than 265,000 claims, with an average amount of just over 2,100 euros per claim, a final amount that exceeded 564 million euros.
In the case of earthquakes, these only account for 3% of the 1,676,000 files managed by the Consortium, but the amount of their compensation represents 5% of the total. In the Lorca (Murcia) earthquake in 2011, of 5.1 magnitude, nine people lost their lives and caused material damage worth 1,200 million euros. According to CCS data, 28,000 claims were filed and the total amount of compensation amounted to more than 518 million euros. The average amount per claim was 18,500 euros.
The Lorca earthquake ranks third in the ranking of disasters that have generated the greatest economic compensation. It is only surpassed by the aforementioned cyclone Klaus, and the floods in Euskadi in 1983, first of all. On that occasion, after a week of intense and continuous rainfall, a cold drop threw 503 liters of rain per square meter in 24 hours in a row.
In addition to natural catastrophes, the CSS also provides coverage for losses caused by terrorism. The M11 attacks on the Madrid Cercanías trains, which killed 193 people and more than 2,000 injured, or the ETA attack on Barajas T4 in 2006, were also compensated by the public entity. In total, the files handled due to terrorism represent less than 2% (30,169) of the total, and 5% (538.1 million euros) of the total compensation awarded to victims and affected parties.
The rest of the causes are residual. For example, since 1971 the Consortium has had to manage 3 files for falling astral bodies and aeroliths, worth something of 100,000 euros. For its part, the 2,196 claims made by the events and actions of the Armed Forces or the Security Forces and Forces in peacetime amount to 4.3 million euros in the last 50 years.
The Mediterranean coast, the hardest hit
When breaking down the Consortium data by province, the differences between territories are notable. Murcia, Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante are by far the provinces that have received the most compensation since 1994. The figure in all of them exceeds 500 million euros, with Murcia being the most affected: 910 million euros.
Another twenty provinces are in the range of 100 million to 365 million. Málaga, Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia or Tarragona are some of the coastal provinces that lead this strip. At the opposite extreme are Cuenca, Zamora, Soria and Teruel, the only provinces in which financial compensation for all causes is below 10 million euros.