2019 is the wettest winter on U.S. record thanks to extreme snowfall and January’s series of storms (the Polar Vortex) costing an estimated $1 billion.
For the Midwest and Northeast, in particular, record low temperatures kept snowpack intact and now spring brings the increased danger of flooding.
More than 200 million people and two-thirds of the 48 contiguous states are at risk and 13 million face major flood risk this spring.
Approximately 25 percent of flood insurance claims in the U.S. are outside of FEMA high-risk flood areas.
To understand actual flood risk and close the flood protection gap, it’s critical for insurers to incorporate flood data beyond FEMA.
Many of the data partners we work with here at SpatialKey are at the forefront of data science, and actively working to innovate modeling approaches to better understand the impact of climate change on flood risk. As carriers, brokers, and MGAs well know, models and their outputs are nuanced, and data providers have different views on climate change and modeling flood risk. That’s why it’s important to have multiple views of risk at your disposal, so you can identify the right models and model components that best represent your lines of business, geography, and business practices.
In the past week, we’ve seen some encouraging private flood market activity—that individually may seem small, but as a trend supports our recent post about why 2019 is going to be a big year for private flood insurance. Here are a few small victories from this week that, if you're an insurer, MGA, or broker looking to expand your U.S. private flood market presence, you may want to take note of…
At a glance:
Global flood expert, JBA Risk Management (JBA), and leading data enrichment and geospatial insurance analytics firm, SpatialKey, have collaborated to provide JBA’s new 5 meter flood maps and associated pricing data to insurers who underwrite and manage flood risk in the state of Florida. These are the most detailed flood maps available for Florida and the start of the initial rollout of JBA’s high-resolution maps for the continental United States. The maps are now available for use within SpatialKey and will bring increased insight into flood risk to the wider insurance community.
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”.
Hurricane Lane barrels towards Hawaii (photo courtesy of cbsnews.com)
Almost exactly one year after Hurricane Harvey dropped 50 inches of rain on Texas, Hurricane Lane, a Category 4 cyclone, is now barreling towards the Hawaiian islands, with its outer rainbands already drenching the Big Island. Forecasters say that it’s on course to move very close to the islands, or, make landfall from Thursday through Friday. With the likelihood of a direct hit growing, authorities have urged residents to set aside two weeks worth of food and water.
Recently, Swiss Re announced that that the firm believes that 2017’s series of catastrophes occurring in the second half of the year is not a one-in-100 year event, but more like a one-in-10 year event:
"Climate change is in fact warming not just the Earth but also the oceans and one of the reasons why the expectation of future hurricanes is so high is that last years' three hurricanes together—the $135 billion of losses—are a one-in-10-year event not a one in a 100-year event….We see the possibility for a repetition of these kinds of losses in the foreseeable future." -John Dacey, Chief Financial Officer, Swiss Re
Dacey is not the only high-profile insurance executive to comment on climate change. Evan Greenberg, Chairman and CEO of Chubb, recently asked, “Given there have been three one-in-100-year floods in 18 months, how can Harvey represent a 1 percent chance of occurring as the models suggested?”
If you don’t know Ambiental, now’s a good time to get familiar with this global flood data provider that specializes in analyzing flood risk and modeling flood hazard. They’ve got a strong track record of increasing the precision of pricing and loss estimation for insurers and reinsurers. Now that their data has been integrated into SpatialKey, we thought it’s a good time to catch up with Evan Shallcross, Technical Manager at Ambiental, who had this to say about underwriting flood risk, progressive flood models, flood maps, and more.
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