Q&A with RedZone, wildfire modeler & hazard data provider

by Jen Smoldt on November 5, 2019

Blog-post-QA-RedZone1

Factors like smoke and wind-driven embers were critical to the 2017 and 2018 California wildfiresand perhaps even more so to recent fires such as Kincade, Getty, and Maria. Yet, traditional incumbent models haven't historically accounted for smoke and floating embers. RedZone does. Lead by actual fire-fighting professionals who understand the nuances behind this growing risk, RedZone is at the forefront of innovating U.S. wildfire data science. 

Back-to-back years of wildfire losses have illuminated that many insurance companies don’t have clear best practices around managing wildfire risk, primarily because it has often been considered part of wider policy terms. As such, there is a much-needed focus on solutions that will help insurers write quality risks. One such solution is to limit accumulations between highly correlated areas of wildfire risk. Historically, insurers have looked at their concentrations of wildfire risk at the county level, along with using ring accumulations as a tool to assess risk. But, there are flaws with these strategies: fires don’t burn in a circle. And, they don’t know postal code boundaries. Now, RedZone is using millions of wildfire simulations to identify burn patterns across the landscape to create areas called “Correlated Risk Zones.”

These Correlated Risk Zones are essentially regions that look completely separate but statistically burn together. They provide a logical and credible alternative by which to manage portfolio risk accumulations alongside traditional loss modeling techniques. Click here to read more about RedZone's new Correlated Risk Zones.

In this Q&A, we catch up with Clark Woodward, Founder and CEO of RedZone, who is on a mission to provide breakthrough wildfire data and risk models for events throughout the U.S. and abroad via their “RZRisk” data solution, accessed through SpatialKey, which includes zones of direct wildfire hazard, ember fall zones, and areas at risk for evacuation or smoke damage.

How did RedZone originate?

As a member of the Four Mile Fire Department in Boulder, CO, I saw a need to more effectively assess and mitigate fire risk. Translating this need into actionable intel during the 2010 Four Mile Canyon wildfire was one of our proudest moments as a company.

What can insurers expect from your data?

Underwriters are in the squeeze play of growing without getting ‘burned.’ Our data enables underwriters to more efficiently and confidently assess wildfire hazard for properties.

What’s the science behind your data?     

Data and outcomes are accepted and reviewed by professional fire service experts and local fire planning projects. And, model outcomes have been regression tested for efficacy against actual claims data by current subscribers and select carriers.

How does your solution solve the problems facing underwriters?

Simplistic ZIP code boundaries and distance-based buffers don’t reflect true risk and can restrict new business. We go beyond direct flame impingement to assess the risk of ember showers and smoke damage. Frequency, severity and history factors contribute to greater understanding, reliability and accuracy.

How does SpatialKey empower your data?

We combine multiple hazards and an aggregate view of risk when visualized within SpatialKey—allowing insurers to, not only understand the imminent threat to a single location, but also see the portfolio impact. Relationships and trust are vital business components. SpatialKey bridges the gap, bringing data providers and insurers together through their unique multi-peril platform.  

What can we look forward to from RedZone?

A Wildfire Accumulation model that enables insurers/reinsurers to confidently set PML constraints.Learn more about RedZone's Correlated Risk Zones

And just for fun...if your company were human, what would it be like?

Our guiding principles: Instinctive Technologist, Absolutely Reliable, Can-Do-Attitude, Loves Process, Continuous Improvement, Serving the Greater Good.

Which superhero would your company be?

Iron Man, of course.

What would your company’s theme song be?

“Smoke on the Water.”

Contact us to learn about accessing RedZone data. For more valuable information like this, subscribe to our blog: 

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