2019 Hurricane Best Practices for P&C Insurers

by Jen Smoldt on July 2, 2019


Although El Niño may help quiet the 2019 season, it only takes one storm to cause serious losses. Not to mention, back-to-back storms to wreak operational havoc. Each landfalling hurricane is unique, and brings with it much more than the hurricanes itself: inland flooding, wind, storm surge, hail, and even tornadoes. Beyond the loss exposure, insurers must deal with operational and organizational strain. It’s a season when, perhaps more than any other, insurers need to have their proverbial “ducks in a row.” This means preparing now for the possibility of the worst.

At SpatialKey, we've been helping our insurance clients tackle 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 struggle 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 2019 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 following 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.
KatRisk Florence inland flood

Using SpatialKey’s slider comparison tool, you can see KatRisk’s initial inland flood model for Hurricane Florence on the left, compared with the final footprint on the right. This prolonged flooding event lead to multiple updates from KatRisk, enabling insurers to gain a solid understanding of potential flood extents throughout the eventand well in advance of other industry data sources.

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.

See more best practices and set your team up for operational success this season with our full 2019 Hurricane Guide


Topics: Hurricane Data, Hurricane Season, catastrophe risk management, hurricane risk

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