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Zurich, Farmers Warn Customers of Possible Volcanic Eruption

Insurance carriers urge Alaskan customers to implement business continuity plans to prepare for the possible eruption of Mount Redoubt.

Zurich Financial Services (Zurich) subsidiaries Zurich North America and Farmers Insurance have begun communications efforts to urge their commercial insurance customers to prepare for the possible eruption of Mount Redoubt, an active volcano located about 179 miles southwest of Anchorage. The U.S. Geological Survey has reported increased earthquake activity and has warned of the possibility of an eruption similar to a 1989 event that spread ash over an area of thousands of square miles.

The insurers recommend that businesses create a business continuity plan that can be implemented if the volcano erupts, in order to minimize the damage immediately following a disaster and manage longer-term effects. "Our customers should have a plan in place to best protect their employees and infrastructure in the event that Mount Redoubt erupts in the near future," says Armand Fernandez, Chief Risk Engineer for Zurich in North America. "Making preparations now can help reduce a negative impact to a business."

The 1989 eruption threatened infrastructure located near the volcano, created a hazard for aviation, and caused power outages. While volcanic ash is fine, it is as dense and hard as rock and can damage machinery and cause or exacerbate respiratory and other health problems.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) says that an eruption similar to or smaller than the 1989 eruption is the most likely scenario, based upon seismic data. At time of reporting, seismic activity remains at elevated levels, according to the AVO.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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