The damage to homes and infrastructure in Grindavík could amount to ISK 10 billion [$71.4 million, €66.3 million], according to the director of the Natural Catastrophe Insurance of Iceland. Before paying out damages, authorities must reconsider the town’s zoning plan and whether some areas will be deemed no longer safe for residential housing. The town has been evacuated since November 10, after seismic activity and a magma dike opened crevasses and damaged roads, homes, and infrastructure.
230 Grindavík properties damaged
All buildings in Iceland are insured against natural disasters and insurance premiums are collected alongside fire insurance. The Natural Catastrophe Insurance of Iceland, a public institution tasked with insuring the main value of properties against natural disasters, has received reports of damage to 230 properties in Grindavík. So far, 140 of them have been inspected and the institution’s director Hulda Ragnheiður Árnadóttir stated she hopes the remaining 90 will be inspected by the end of the week.
Zoning reconsidered in Grindavík
The seismic events in Grindavík began in late October and earthquakes and land deformation continued over several weeks. Land deformation is still ongoing at Svartsengi, north of Grindavík. Hulda Ragnheiður says the circumstances of the damage are unusual as it occurred over a relatively long period of time. “That’s why it’s difficult to start paying out damages while it hasn’t been decided which areas are suitable for habitation.”
Experts have stated that Grindavík is at risk of further earthquakes and eruptions in the coming weeks and months and it is still unclear when it will be safe for the town’s 3,600 residents to return home. In some areas where damage has occurred, authorities may decide to ban rebuilding due to ongoing risk.
“I think it’s inevitable that the layout of the town will change in some way,” Hulda Ragnheiður stated. “All of the decisions that will be made are in the jurisdiction of the municipality of Grindavík in collaboration with scientists and the government. We will receive the information that comes out of that and process it.”