Hurricane Harvey: What now?

by Jon Sonnenschein on August 29, 2017

hurricane harvey flooding.jpgSevere flooding in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey (

Since progressing to Category 4 strength over the weekend, Hurricane Harvey has regressed back into a tropical storm. As predicted, rainfall and flooding have taken over as the main threats from Harvey, making this storm far from finished.

While Harvey has been downgraded, the high level of urgency cannot be lost on anyone. Heavy rain is expected to stall over Texas for much of the week, potentially making this a seven-day event, or longer. Rainfall from Harvey, having reached nearly 40 inches in some areas of Texas, is close to surpassing the annual averages for many cities. That’s a year’s worth of rain in less than a week. FEMA administrator Brock Long said, “Texas has never seen an event like this,” and that, “Every number we put out right now is going to change in 30 minutes."

Harvey presents a tricky scenario for many Texas and Louisiana residents. While things may appear to be improving, Harvey was always going to be a one-two punch, first hitting with the hurricane-speed winds, and then lasting flooding. Not to mention a potentially unforeseen third punch: 19 tornadoes reported along the Gulf Coast over the weekend.

How to quickly use data and analytics for your claims response

Now, as the numbers start rolling in, and we’re gaining an understanding of how devastating this event was, it’s time to start mobilizing your claims response efforts. It’s currently estimated that insured losses from this event will be between $10-20 billion, with the bulk of the damage coming from flooding. Heavy winds and storm surge levels are unlikely to change from this point on, but our data partners will be closely monitoring them, and storm surge, wind, and flood data will be available to access within SpatialKey. (Not a client yet? Click here to get started.)

Here are some things that you can do today to prepare for when the storm officially passes:

  • Leverage storm surge, coastal, and inland flood footprints. It’s important to understand exactly how many of your insureds were exposed and what the losses are shaping up to be. It’s clear that flooding is the major concern with this storm, and with rain continuing through the week, you can gauge your exposure from a flood perspective as Harvey continues to bring rain throughout the week.
  • Quickly get in touch with affected insureds. While many of your policyholders may have evacuated, you can still contact those further inland with tips for preparing their properties to mitigate potential losses from the forecasted inland flooding. By understanding the path of the storm, which is now moving very slowly, you can proactively reach out to your impacted (or soon-to-be-impacted) insureds.
  • Prepare your claims response. While you’re likely already preparing, you can begin responding to claims before policyholders even file them. With losses predicted to be in the billions, claims attributed to Harvey will likely be being processed for months. Staying ahead of your insureds by visually tracking the storm against your portfolio and accessing insights about potential cost will be crucial to figuring out where to dedicate claims resources for a well-organized response effort.

As is often the case with a storm like this, some pieces are still developing. Namely, inland flooding continues to unfold, making ongoing monitoring critical. Through our partnerships with JBA Risk Management, Impact Forecasting, and KatRisk, you can access the latest inland flood footprint to understand what your exposure looks like as you move away from coastal areas. As the rain continues throughout the week, JBA, Impact Forecasting, and KatRisk will be updating their inland flood data models, and we’ll make the data (as well as anything else from our other leading flood partners) accessible to you as soon as it’s available. Data and analytics are imperative to understanding, preparing, and responding to events like Hurricane Harvey. That’s why we work with industry-leading data providers, to give you immediate access to the hazard and event data that you need to make fast, informed decisions that will protect your insureds.

To learn more about how you can stay proactive throughout the week and get started on your claims processing as the storm tapers off, reach out today.

Topics: Hurricane, Event Analysis, Exposure Management, Analytics, Event response, Data, Storm Tracking

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