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The media may be fickle - Insurance is for the long term

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As is often the way with the modern media, once they have had their fill of a story they move on to the next headline and rarely spend much time on the aftermath.

Back in January 2012, the Costa Concordia sank on its side in shallow water off the Italian Island of Giglio and is still there. But even though 16 months have elapsed, given that it has been likened to the Eifel Tower on its side, perhaps that should not be a surprise.

But the Costa Concordia is sure to hit the headlines again over the next few months as what is described as the biggest marine salvage operation ever gets underway.

The easiest option was to cut the ship up where it is, but environmental concerns about the local marine ecology have won the day, so the plan is to right the vessel using football pitch size underwater platforms as support and refloat it with massive inflatables. It will then be towed to an Italian port and broken up.

The overall cost of the insurance claim is still unknown. The hull was reportedly settled for $513m, but the salvage operation could cost as much again and once the passenger and liability claims are factored in, the insurers involved may not see much change from $3billion. However, it could be years before all claims are settled.

It is a similar story with other recent disasters, even those of the magnitude of the Japanese earthquake/Tsunami of March 2011.

At the time, we saw the amazing footage of the devastating power of the sea as the waves hit land, the destruction of the nuclear power plant and then a few weeks later, how quickly the Japanese were recovering with before and after pictures of the initial reconstruction.

But recent reports give a different picture, rebuilding progress has been slow and there is frustration with the Tokyo government. Over 100,000 of the population are still displaced and for those that lived near the nuclear reactors there is uncertainty as to whether they will ever be able to return home. All hardly surprising given the monumental scale of the damage and the need to completely rebuild the infrastructure in much of the area.

Even though it is estimated ($262 billion) as the costliest natural disaster in history and the accompanying human tragedy, the UK's media interest has been periodic, although the recent second anniversary and debris being washed up on Californian and Canadian beaches have attracted their interest.

BP have probably been more in than and out of the news since the Deep Water oil spill in the Mexican Gulf back in 2010 with the latest being their plea to David Cameron to fight their corner against US court awards to companies that BP claim were unaffected by the spill.

Whilst BP have publicly taken most of the blame and reached early compensation deals to try to cap their liability, they will no doubt be looking to offset some of this outlay to their partners who appear to have also had responsibility, but again it could take years.

By contrast there has been less on the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated the centre of Christchurch, New Zealand back in February 2011, which whilst on a smaller scale to Japan will still take many years (the cathedral alone could take 20 years) to rebuild the affected areas.

Perhaps those closer to home tend to attract more interest, particularly when American interests are involved, but the one thing for sure with any major disaster is that even after the media have lost interest the insurers could well be picking up the tab for many years to come.

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