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Column: Roger's Soapbox

Perspective | Quantifying Lionel Messi’s Earthquake Risk at World Cup 2018

By: | June 1, 2018 • 2 min read
Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

The fates dispatched me to Bermuda in the 1990’s.  Catastrophe insurance was reinvented there soon after I arrived, leading me to become a hurricane and earthquake man.

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Bermuda saw me at the heart of three major hurricanes, two of them killers. In the first, I refused to leave my home — not through obduracy, but because I was being directed to a nearby house no better fortified than my own.

In the second, I empty-headedly went outdoors in what I quickly learned was the eye of the storm and found myself stranded on the roof when the back end of the whirlwind blew the ladder away. The third disturbance saw me locked indoors while the weather wrecked things and killed people for 12 hours.

Until recently, I had experienced only one earthquake, though — in California in 1988 — and a relatively harmless event it was. Driving a Volkswagen cliché around North America, we were relaxing at a rest area off the freeway when a quake shook the ground for a few seconds. It was a 6-point-something, centered reasonably far away.

What experience, rather than theory, teaches you about earthquakes is how destabilizing they can be. That’s obvious, but you cannot anticipate the brief period of uncertainty that accompanies the shaking, and the more lasting recollection of how brief, and random, life can be for those caught in proximity to a serious quake.

My second seismic event, this spring, was a more sedate affair, experienced at my brother’s home in England’s West Country. A late lunch was accompanied by a sudden, short cracking sound on the roof a foot or two above our heads. With the particular insight that years of learning instills, I confidently declared the culprit to be squirrels.

It was in fact a 4.4 earthquake, its epicenter about 100 miles away, shrugged off immediately and not even worthy of conversation by the next day.

At the start of an interview some years ago, a broker spoke of his relief that earthquake season was over for the year. It was a test to see how clued in I might be. When I expressed, with a certainty I did not entirely possess, that there was no earthquake season, he smiled and told me I had passed the test.

What experience, rather than theory, teaches you about earthquakes is how destabilizing they can be. That’s obvious, but you cannot anticipate the brief period of uncertainty that accompanies the shaking, and the more lasting recollection of how brief, and random, life can be for those caught in proximity to a serious quake.

In Barcelona, Spain, however, we now know there is indeed an earthquake season. It is coterminous with the football (soccer) season. No, I’m not turning the tables by testing you; it’s true. Barcelona, perhaps the world’s best club side, employs one Lionel Messi, perhaps the world’s best football player.

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Seismologists who record urban vibrations have noticed that every time Barcelona, and especially Messi, scores a goal, “people jump up and down and the stadium shakes.”

Not only can the scientists say from a distance exactly when a goal was scored, they can rate its relative importance by the intensity of those stamping their feet. A fellow seismologist in the UK can distinguish a goal, by vibration, from the build-up to a goal.

The soccer World Cup is upon us at any moment. It will be watched by billions around the planet. A timely warning, therefore: Beware global stamping.

Editor’s note: After Mexico’s surprise upset of Germany in the first round of this year’s World Cup, seismologists detected this very phenomenon.  &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession: Curt Gross

This director of risk management sees cyber, IP and reputation risks as evolving threats, but more formal education may make emerging risk professionals better prepared.
By: | June 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My first non-professional job was working at Burger King in high school. I learned some valuable life lessons there.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

After taking some accounting classes in high school, I originally thought I wanted to be an accountant. After working on a few Widgets Inc. projects in college, I figured out that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Risk management found me. The rest is history. Looking back, I am pleased with how things worked out.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

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I think we do a nice job on post graduate education. I think the ARM and CPCU designations give credibility to the profession. Plus, formal college risk management degrees are becoming more popular these days. I know The University of Akron just launched a new risk management bachelor’s program in the fall of 2017 within the business school.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

I think we could do a better job with streamlining certificates of insurance or, better yet, evaluating if they are even necessary. It just seems to me that there is a significant amount of time and expense around generating certificates. There has to be a more efficient way.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

Selfishly, I prefer a destination with a direct flight when possible. RIMS does a nice job of selecting various locations throughout the country. It is a big job to successfully pull off a conference of that size.

Curt Gross, Director of Risk Management, Parker Hannifin Corp.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

Definitely the change in nontraditional property & casualty exposures such as intellectual property and reputational risk. Those exposures existed way back when but in different ways. As computer networks become more and more connected and news travels at a more rapid pace, it just amplifies these types of exposures. Sometimes we have to think like the perpetrator, which can be difficult to do.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

I hate to sound cliché — it’s quite the buzz these days — but I would have to say cyber. It’s such a complex risk involving nontraditional players and motives. Definitely a challenging exposure to get your arms around. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll really know the true exposure until there is more claim development.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

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Our captive insurance company. I’ve been fortunate to work for several companies with a captive, each one with a different operating objective. I view a captive as an essential tool for a successful risk management program.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I can’t point to just one. I have and continue to be lucky to work for really good managers throughout my career. Each one has taken the time and interest to develop me as a professional. I certainly haven’t arrived yet and welcome feedback to continue to try to be the best I can be every day.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

I would like to think I have and continue to bring meaningful value to my company. However, I would have to say my family is my proudest accomplishment.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

Favorite movie is definitely “Good Will Hunting.”

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Tough question to narrow down. If my wife ran a restaurant, it would be hers. We try to have dinner as a family as much as possible. If I had to pick one restaurant though, I would say Fire Food & Drink in Cleveland, Ohio. Chef Katz is a culinary genius.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

The Grand Canyon. It is just so vast. A close second is Stonehenge.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

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A few, actually. Up until a few years ago, I owned a sport bike (motorcycle). Of course, I wore the proper gear, took a safety course and read a motorcycle safety book. Also, I have taken a few laps in a NASCAR [race car] around Daytona International Speedway at 180 mph. Most recently, trying to ride my daughter’s skateboard.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

The Dalai Lama. A world full of compassion, tolerance and patience and free of discrimination, racism and violence, while perhaps idealistic, sounds like a wonderful place to me.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I really enjoy the company I work for and my role, because I get the opportunity to work with various functions. For example, while mostly finance, I get to interact with legal, human resources, employee health and safety, to name a few.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

I asked my son. He said, “Risk management and insurance.” (He’s had the benefit of bring-your-kid-to-work day.)

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]