2018 Hurricane Best Practices for P&C Insurers

by Jen Smoldt on August 24, 2018

2018 hurricane guide

Just a year ago Hurricane Harvey was making landfall on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Now, the projected hurricane season looks quite different, having been downgraded most recently by NOAA. It would be easy to become complacent—if not for Hurricane Lane, a Category 4 cyclone, barreling down on the Hawaiian islands. We may not see a string of hurricanes like last season, but Hurricane Lane is a reminder that it does, in fact, only take one hurricane. There’s no time like the present to learn from the past and get your operational “ducks in a row”.

Looking back at 2017’s historic hurricane season, what’s most notable beyond the losses is the operational challenges that back-to-back hurricanes revealed. At SpatialKey, we felt this first-hand as we helped clients work through the challenge of operationalizing sophisticated hazard data and transforming it into a format that means something—a task that is universally hard for re/insurers, MGAs, and brokers alike. Even with a dedicated GIS team, insurers still struggled to keep up with massive streams of hazard data—not to mention trying to make sense of it for actionable insight. This task of operationalizing data, such as surge, wind, and flood event footprints, becomes ridiculously complex and time-consuming—right when you have no time.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to use the learnings from last year to get your event response operations in order. Download our 2018 Hurricane Guide to learn how to:

  • Conduct a hurricane dry run to ensure operational success
  • Assess which analytic tools are must-haves for your organization
  • Evaluate which third-party data you need to have at your disposal
  • Avoid “analysis paralysis”
  • Turn around event footprints quickly and make sense of all the data!  

Use the below abbreviated checklists as guidelines for assessing your readiness:

Pre-event best practices:

  • Know which systems house the most up-to-date view of your policies in force (PIF).
  • Assess your analytic capabilities and what tools you have at your disposal (e.g. Can you account for actual exposure, not just TIV?.
  • Renew or expand data licenses and assess “on call” partnership needs.  
  • Have a pre-approved contingency budget in place for data and analytic needs (e.g Will you need post-hurricane flyover imagery to begin addressing business interruption or additional living expenses for policyholders?).
  • Conduct a dry run, which includes stress testing with past hurricane events, performing “what if” analyses, walking through the process for accessing your PIFs, and much more.


During best practices:

  • Know where to go for regular hazard data updates, and how often to expect updates from various data providers.
  • Make sure you have the capacity and in-house GIS expertise to turn around event footprints and models as they’re available and get them into usable formats.
  • Consider your integration set up and APIs: With more sophisticated data flowing in, you need to know if your integrations have the capacity to keep up.
  • Use a geospatial analytics solution (like SpatialKey) to help you “move the levers” and understand your sensitivity to model outputs.
  • Avoid “analysis paralysis” by tapping into the industry expertise SpatialKey's account managers can provide, such as helping to interpret variations and nuances in models and event footprints.

SpatialKey’s “comparison slider” tool shows KatRisk’s Harvey event footprint on the left and JBA’s Harvey footprint on the right, enabling users to compare two sources of expert data against their portfolios at one time. Get our 2018 Hurricane Guide to learn why these event footprints were so different. 

Post-event best practices:

  • Ensure access to post-event data (e.g. aerial imagery data may help you pinpoint potential claims and more accurately assess damage before claims are even filed)
  • Plan a debrief immediately following each event to assess what went well and where improvement to the process can be made.
  • Consult with trusted advisors (such as your SpatialKey account manager) who can help provide added perspective and suggestions for improving your process, and share how others in the market responded.
  • Evaluate the level of customer support and responsiveness you received during this time-sensitive event from various partners and solutions providers.
  • Conduct an end-of-season historical analysis/audit to understand gaps in your processes, analytic tools, data, and concentrations of accumulations so that you can spot trends and make changes prior to next season.

Get ahead of Hurricane Lane, and others that are sure to follow this season, and set your teams up for operational success with our full 2018 Hurricane Guide


Topics: Hurricane Data, Hurricane Season, Flood risk, hazard risk data

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