How to protect the heritage of Italian churches

Italy is a country that is at a high risk of natural catastrophes (nat cats), with only a small percentage of property being insured. When a disaster strikes, the society finds it cumbersome to get back on its feet. With some 25'600 parishes across the country, about 70% are insured only against fire and a select few have nat cat events coverage. Conferenza Episcopale Italiana (CEI), known as Italian Bishops Conference, and Cattolica Assicurazioni have developed a national scheme to protect churches in case of such events, together with Swiss Re as a partner.

The challenge

90% of losses due to earthquakes are currently uninsured, making it the most underinsured peril in the world. At the core of the issue is the lack of affordable indemnity coverage. Index solutions are cost effective, providing an ideal alternative for customers.

The ambition? Closing the nat cat protection gap (insuring currently not insured risks), which currently stands at about €10 billion of annual expected losses in Italy alone. This figure is particularly high given the amount of historical monuments and heritage buildings, scattered around the country.

With this in mind, we embarked on an innovative project, together with Cattolica Assicurazioni. The insurer of CEI has developed a national scheme and sought our support in order to protect the heritage of all Italian churches from natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, hail and other atmospheric events.

The solution 

Sant'Emidio Project, designed with an innovative structure, aimed to protect all parishes of the CEI in the entire Italian territory in an affordable and sustainable way. For 14 months, our teams have come together with our client, Cattolica Assicurazioni, and contributed to making this first nat cat national scheme a reality. From expertise in earthquake modelling to a dedicated vulnerability analysis, proper management of the artistic value of holy artifacts and medieval structures, the structuring and UW of the reinsurance cover, we created a smart solution to protect Italian cultural heritage. Swiss Re provides the reinsurance coverage to support the original product launched by Cattolica Assicurazioni.

Who benefits?

With this truly national protection scheme, it is not only the CEI, but Italian people who use places of worship as well as aggregation, play and training across the country. As we collaborate with institutions to prepare them for the unexpected, the communities are made more resilient. They have tools for a faster and more efficient recovery. We continue to develop our offering and in the future, for example, with parametric catastrophic policies, we will be able to provide funds a few hours after the event and, in addition to material reconstruction and economic recovery, this is a reassuring, moral support.

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