Haiti is one of sixteen members of the Carribean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIC), which is a regional parametric trigger cat risk insurance pool that is intended to provide member governments with short term cash payments to bridge the gap between hurricanes or earthquakes and the receipt of contributions from other governments, organizations and individuals. The facility makes payments to member governments after a 14 day waiting period after a qualifying event. The CCRIF is scheduled to make a payment to the Government of Haiti of $8 million on January 26, which is more than 20 times the premium of $385,000 paid by Haiti for this coverage. The World Bank sponsored a donor conference when the CCRIF was founded in 2007, seeking international support for this facility, but pledges of support at that time from countries around the world, the World Bank and other organizations totaled only $47 million. This level of support may have been due in part to the fact that this was the first regional cat risk insurance pool of its kind, and there was uncertainty as to how effective it would be in accomplishing its goal. The CCRIF claims that it provides coverage to its members at approximately 40% less than commercially available coverage, when such coverage is available. While the amount of the CCRIF’s payment to Haiti is not impressive in light of the magnitude of this disaster, perhaps this event will prompt a re-evaluation of the level of international support for the CCRIF as a means of providing short term liquidity for immediate relief efforts for such disasters.

News reports have indicated that a large portion of the losses in Haiti are not insured, making the impact of this disaster for one of the historically poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere even more catastrophic. For sobering details about the impact of this disaster, including post-earthquake population movements in Haiti, details on the humanitarian response, and details about relief contributions from many sources around the world, go to the Relief Web, which is administered by the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.