Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, in that order, top Swiss Re’s ranking of American and Canadian cities under threat of disaster. Globally, Tokyo and many cities along the Pacific Rim surpassed Los Angeles, which ranked ninth overall, according to Swiss Re’s new study, titled “Mind the Risk: Insight into the Exposure of Urban Centers to Natural Catastrophes.”

The urban areas were ranked by the number of people potentially affected by the five perils used for consideration in the study, which included river flooding, earthquake, tropical cyclone, tsunami and storm surge risks. Earthquake exposure accounted for the added risk along the West Coast, while earthquakes and river flooding were the most prevalent risk exposures across Asia, which holds the eight most at-risk cities.

Between all five perils, 57.1 million Tokyo-Yokohama citizens are potentially affected, making it the city with the highest exposure globally.

Six hundred cities were considered, all with populations exceeding 700,000 citizens.

Swiss Re Managing Director Andreas Schraft, who contributes to the construction of catastrophe models, called for the strengthening of urban areas, as the majority of urban assets are not adequately insured, according to the report.

While the threat of seismic activity looms large on the West Coast, New York was the most at-risk U.S. city in terms of storm surge, and Swiss Re’s Megan Linkin pointed out that Hurricanes Irene and Sandy have gone a long way to remind risk modelers that the Gulf isn’t the only area exposed to this threat.

To see the 10 most at-risk U.S. and Canadian cities, click here.

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