At a glance:
Hurricane track above Earth; photo courtesy of The Atlantic
Feeling a bit apocalyptic out there? Four back-to-back Category 4 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria), coupled with wildfires and earthquakes, have left many North Americans, in particular, wondering is this the new norm? Or, is this what we should have expected from the 2017 hurricane season? (Read on and tweet us @spatialkey to cast your vote).
Aileen (also known as Sebastian) was the first named storm of the European windstorm season, bringing a healthy dose of what could be to come. Still, uncertainty pervades the 2017-18 season. Will it be benign, like past seasons, or will we see a higher frequency and severity of storms?
I was joined recently by more than 100 insurance industry professionals at Lloyd’s Library to hear the latest about global terrorism and explore some use cases to apply current information related to terrorism and political violence risk. Event attendees represented 50 different companies and demonstrated that terrorism is still very much a topic of interest to the industry. And while we are not in a position to eliminate the existential risk of terrorism, there are at least some things we can do to understand, avoid, and manage it from an insurance perspective.
Recent wildfires in Northern California, specifically in Napa and Sonoma counties, have sparked widespread devastation across the area to lives, homes, and businesses. Despite the fires still being active, and the numbers still being calculated, this event is already “the deadliest and most destructive series of wildfires in California history,” and among the worst in U.S. history. And with damages estimated between $3 billion and $6 billion (which could still rise), insurers may face another massive payout due to natural catastrophes in 2017. These devastating events are proof that data is the only line of defense for insurers. And, it’s more paramount than ever, to gain a better understanding of how you can use data to better mitigate and underwrite wildfire risk going forward.
California wildfires burn a Paras Vineyards building burns in the Napa area Oct. 10, 2017 (courtesy of Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
This fall, it seems that we can’t catch a break from natural catastrophes and extreme weather. While many people have been eyeing the record-setting hurricanes we’ve seen over the last few months, wildfires in the West are rapidly competing for our attention. Northern California is the latest area to be hit by wildfires, and as of Thursday, they’ve burned for five days straight, with the worst occurring in Napa and Sonoma counties.
An abandoned boat takes on water on the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Image courtesy of NY Post
Hurricane Nate made landfall Saturday night as a Category 1 hurricane, packing winds of 85 MPH. Nate follows a slew of major storms, some of which have been historic. With record-setting floods and maximum sustained winds, these storms are a reminder that we need to stay prepared, and remain alert once an event is forecasted.
Hurricane Maria devastation, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
Hurricane Maria barreled into Puerto Rico on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane and was the most powerful storm the island has seen in nearly a century. Earlier in the week, Maria hit the Caribbean island of Dominica as a Category 5 hurricane. Maria is the fourth major hurricane (Category 3 or more) this season and on track with NOAA’s predictions. While four major hurricanes should not come as a surprise, what has been surprising is how close together they have occurred. Maria comes on the heels of Harvey, Irma, and Jose, making it imperative that insurers work to stay ahead of these events and be prepared in a time of extreme weather uncertainty.
SpatialKey is pleased to offer its insurance clients access to market-leading political violence data from IHS Markit. IHS Markit provides comprehensive location-specific risk scores and in-depth intelligence, which is immediately available to underwriters and exposure managers within SpatialKey’s geospatial insurance analyticsplatform.
We live in a world where terrorism is a constant and unpredictable threat. Recent attacks have hit too close to home for some of us, and may make all of us feel powerless over our personal lives and businesses. Likewise, as insurers and insurance stakeholders, recent attacks remind us that we have to be smart about what we do to protect our livelihoods. It’s a business, yes, but it’s also a valued service.