Flooded with claims: Visualize how Louisiana event affects your portfolio

Posted on August 18, 2016 by Heather Munro



Photo credit: foxnews.com

Over the weekend, Louisiana experienced the worst flooding the state has seen since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A slow-moving tropical depression brought more than 30 inches of rain to parts of Louisiana, forcing the federal government to declare a major disaster on Monday. So far, at least 13 people have died, 30,000 people have been rescued from their cars and homes, and 40,000 homes and businesses have lost power.

Governor John Bel Edwards, who had to evacuate the Governor’s Mansion because of flooding, warned that the dangers are far from over. The Weather Channel reported at least six rivers hitting record high levels, with flood warnings still in effect.

As your insureds in Louisiana—and parts of Mississippi—prepare for continued flooding, you can get a more complete view of your potential exposure throughout this hard-hit region.

Quantify and act on the data you need right now

While the state waits for flood waters to recede and braces for possible flash flooding, the Louisiana Department of Transportation reported more than 280 roads were closed because of high water. Aside from rescue efforts, life has most certainly come to a standstill for your insureds in that part of the state.

To see the extent of the flooding, SpatialKey includes a flood footprint from our data partner, KatRisk. Armed with that information, you can see which properties have been affected, begin contacting your insureds, and mobilize your claims team to respond as quickly as possible.


In addition, SpatialKey offers you a choice of data providers beside KatRisk: JBA Risk Management is also available. You can gain a deeper understanding of the event by comparing and contrasting flood data sources from a variety of providers or select a single trusted data source as your preferred provider.

With the danger of flood still imminent in Louisiana, you can use the data from these expert sources to mitigate additional losses by reaching out to customers. Secondary effects of the flood will also almost certainly lead to more claims related to business interruption, contamination, and cleanup efforts. Evaluating the impacted areas now, can help your claims team determine if damage occurred from the initial flood or from a later peril.

Preparing your portfolio for increasing rainfall

Insurers know floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States. But it may come as a surprise to learn that heavy rainfalls, like the most recent one in Louisiana, are on the rise because of climate change. The reason? Warmer air can hold more moisture, which in turn, causes more rain.

“Very heavy precipitation events, defined as the heaviest one percent, now drop 67 percent more precipitation in the Northeast, 31 percent more in the Midwest and 15 percent more in the Great Plains, including the Dakotas, than they did 50 years ago,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Although there’s nothing you can do about the flood risk you’ve already written, savvy insurers are using state-of-the-art tools and data to make better underwriting decisions. With SpatialKey, you can easily display areas where past or future hazard severity may be indicative of loss potential.

What’s more, you can identify and add policies that capture adequate premium, allowing you to grow a healthy flood portfolio as competition for that business expands in the wake of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

To learn more about how SpatialKey can help you respond faster to floods and write profitable flood business, contact us today.







Posted in weather, Flood | Leave a reply

How will you weather hurricanes during the rest of the 2016 season?

Posted on August 10, 2016 by Heather Munro


ibtimes.co.uk_mexico-landslides-hurricane-earl.jpgHurricane Earl dropped a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours, causing mudslides across parts of eastern Mexico. Photo credit: ibtimes.co.uk

While tropical storm Earl escalated into a category 1 hurricane for only a brief time in early August, it caused major loss of life and damage in eastern Mexico. In just 24 hours, the region received a month’s worth of rain, which caused multiple mudslides across the mountainous terrain and at press time, around 41 deaths.

It’s a grim reminder for insurers to stay alert. As we near the halfway mark for the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, Colorado State University (CSU) is forecasting 11 named storms, five hurricanes, and two major hurricanes for the remainder of the season. While this is a slight increase in the number of storms predicted at the beginning of the season, CSU still expects a near-average Atlantic hurricane season.

September is also the most common month for hurricanes making landfall in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Between now and the end of the season in November, it’s safe to say that anything could happen.

Just as you provide peace of mind to your insureds, you need to feel confident that you’re prepared for the next big hurricane. SpatialKey is here to help you before, during, and after an event.

Stay on top of hurricane developments and act on them sooner

Like most hurricanes, Earl was anything but typical. It began as a tropical wave and thanks to warm waters and reduced wind shear as it crossed the central Caribbean Sea, grew into a tropical storm on August 1. One day later, the storm was upgraded to a hurricane, where it moved inland over Belize.

Next, Earl weakened back to a tropical storm as it crossed over the mountains of eastern Mexico. And although the storm never regained its earlier hurricane status, the steady rainfall—a month’s worth of rain in a day’s time—caused deadly landslides across the region.

During rapidly changing events like Earl, assessing the storm’s potential path, severity, and impact is critical to mobilizing your claims team to respond quickly. You need to understand exactly what’s at stake for your insureds and your portfolio. SpatialKey simplifies this process, giving  you seamless access to the NOAA hurricane event catalog, which is updated throughout the life cycle of the storm.

Of course, access to up-to-the-minute data means you have the information you need to manage your response efforts. Once you have a clear picture of the hurricane’s impact, you’ll also need to share a list of affected insureds with your claims team. SpatialKey allows you to easily export and share this kind of exposure data.

Hurrciane_Earl_Screen_Shot_2016-08-10_at_1.00.12_PM.pngVisualize a hurricane’s impact with real-time data in SpatialKey.

Let’s say that instead of downgrading to a tropical storm, Earl had grown back into a hurricane and changed course towards Cancun, a section of Mexico with seaside resorts where you have a substantial number of insureds. You can evaluate what-if scenarios like these and adjust your strategies as necessary, all within SpatialKey.

Once a hurricane is over, NOAA’s final event footprint is immediately available within SpatialKey. Your analytic team can review your portfolio performance at multiple snapshots in time and form a more complete view of the storm’s impact to your book of business.

Earl was the fifth named storm and only the second of 15 hurricanes predicted for the entire 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, which still has three months left. Even in years with fewer named storms, savvy insurers understand it only takes one major storm to make landfall and affect your book to make any predictions irrelevant. Are you ready?

Preparing for any outcome is the key to retaining policyholders, minimizing negative impacts to your portfolio, and setting expectations with senior management. To learn more about how SpatialKey can help you respond to events faster and increase customer satisfaction, contact us today.
Posted in weather, Hurricane | Leave a reply

3 lessons to make you see 2016 hurricane season in a new light

Posted on June 4, 2016 by Heather Munro


Photo credit: nasa.gov Photo credit: nasa.gov

Tropical Depression Bonnie kicked off the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season along the North Carolina coast earlier this week. While experts are still weighing in with predictions for the rest of the season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, estimates range anywhere from 10 to 17 named storms.

2016 is already shaping up to be an unusual year. Hurricane Alex made landfall in the Azores, a group of Portugal islands, in January—making it the first Atlantic hurricane to occur in that month since 1955. What’s more, the shift in weather patterns from El Niño to La Niña could mean a slightly greater chance of tropical storms and hurricanes occurring.

With these things in mind, we’ve outlined three valuable lessons SpatialKey clients are drawing upon to better manage their response and proactively select and price risks that mitigate the impact of catastrophe claims to their business.

Hurricane Patricia approaching Mexico’s coast on October 23, 2015. Hurricane Patricia approaching Mexico’s coast on October 23, 2015.

Lesson #1: There’s no substitute for live event data

When a hurricane hits, you need real-time event data so you can adjust your claims deployment as quickly as possible.

SpatialKey instantly shows your potential exposure to active hurricanes that may impact the U.S., the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. You can easily identify risk concentrations, estimate potential exposure, and most importantly, mobilize your claims personnel to quickly respond to insureds.

In addition, SpatialKey delivers the data through an intuitive workflow that readily exposes hurricane characteristics to support exposure analysis, making acting on live data that much easier.

Lesson #2: Faster access to event data saves you valuable time

Why spend time searching for the information you need to make critical decisions? After all, the faster you can respond to your insureds, the more satisfied they will be at renewal time.

SpatialKey provides seamless access to the hurricane event catalog from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which means you don’t have to source, prepare, and import hazard data yourself. Additionally, NOAA data is updated throughout the lifecycle of a storm, allowing you to review your portfolio performance at multiple snapshots in time.

You can also easily upload other expert data sources to get a richer picture of the event and tailor your response accordingly. Having the flexibility to see different views of the event gives your team the latest intelligence for making fast decisions when every minute counts.

What if Hurricane Ike struck again? What if Hurricane Ike struck again?

Lesson #3: Insights from past hurricanes can improve present performance

Of course, event response isn’t the only thing to think about. Looking closely at how and why your portfolio performed during past hurricanes and applying those lessons to your current portfolio can be the key to weathering the next big storm.

Not only does SpatialKey enable you to evaluate potential loss scenarios if an event similar to a historical hurricane happened today, it also allows you to:

  • Visualize your portfolio performance against your past hurricane claims experience and exposure data and develop risk mitigation measures.
  • Perform “what-if” analysis to see how a historical hurricane would impact your portfolio today.
  • Modify historical and active storm tracks to analyze possible exposures.
  • Display the storm track and its wind speeds.
  • Quickly gain insight into the composition of a portfolio of risks to identify the location characteristics likely to drive loss.

While no one can say for certain how many hurricanes will happen over the next few months, whether they will make landfall or not, or how severe they will be, now is the time to make sure you’re ready to use every tool in your arsenal when one does occur.

To learn more about how SpatialKey can help you respond to events faster and underwrite more profitable hurricane business, contact us today.

Posted in weather, Hurricane | Leave a reply

Houston Flood: 3 Critical Things You Need to Know

Posted on April 21, 2016 by Sarah Stadler



Photo credit: CBS Radio Houston. Photo credit: CBS Radio Houston.

On April 18, an astounding two feet of rain fell overnight around Houston, Texas—a 1-in-200 year event, according to NOAA. CNN reported this catastrophic flooding has already killed seven people, flooded 1,000 homes, and caused an estimated $5 billion or more in property damage in Harris County alone.


Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 5.42.12 PM SpatialKey enables you to look at potential flooding from an event.

With such a large number of claims expected in a short period of time—and more rain on the way—getting your adjusters to assess policyholder damages is a tricky, yet critical, challenge. And, because private insurers are poised to begin underwriting flood insurance along with the NFIP, it’s also a reminder to take steps now to mitigate any future losses.

We’ve outlined three SpatialKey features clients are using to make their event response the best in the insurance industry and enable them to proactively select and price risks that mitigate the impact of claims to their business.

1) Flood Footprints from KatRisk Within 24 Hours

Less than a day after the onset of the flooding in Texas, SpatialKey users had access to a detailed flood footprint provided by our partner, KatRisk. Event footprints like these help you identify which policyholders may be affected, form a more complete view of potential exposure, and begin the process of deploying claims operations.


Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 5.53.18 PM SpatialKey is integrated with KatRisk and provides the data you need with unprecedented speed.

2) Easy Access to Data from Multiple Sources

In addition to KatRisk, you can access, compare, and understand multiple, expert data sources—including USGS, FEMA, and JBA Risk Management—all from within SpatialKey. So instead of searching different websites, you can see the data you need in context of the insured locations and calibrate your view of risk.

3) Tools to Enable More Effective Underwriting

SpatialKey also facilitates underwriting by bringing hazard data and metrics to the forefront of the decision-making process by displaying areas where past or future hazard severity may be indicative of loss potential.

What’s more, you can identify and add policies that capture adequate premium, allowing you to grow a healthy flood portfolio as competition for that business expands.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 6.14.15 PM

To learn more about how SpatialKey can help you respond to events faster and underwrite profitable flood business, contact us today.

Posted in weather, Flood | Leave a reply

Ecuador Earthquake: How SpatialKey Helps Insurers Respond

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Sarah Stadler


Photo credit: cnn.com. Photo credit: cnn.com.

The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador since the 1970s, the magnitude-7.8 quake that rocked the country’s coastal region on April 16 has left at least 272 people dead, thousands injured, and several towns in ruins.

While damages from the initial quake, aftershocks, and subsequent fires are still being tolled, SpatialKey clients are able to support initial recovery and rebuilding efforts by focusing on providing relief as quickly as possible. Thanks to SpatialKey, they can quickly identify potentially impacted insured properties, formulate a response plan, and inform senior management about their potential exposure to the event.

Within minutes of the quake, SpatialKey clients had access to earthquake shake maps published by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which are natively integrated in SpatialKey’s Earthquake application.

Final Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 5.28.08 PM

Using their property portfolio, SpatialKey clients can easily identify the locations and Total Insured Value and Exposed Limit at risk. And, with SpatialKey’s flexible filters, they can prioritize their response to key segments of their business, individual policies, and locations that were exposed to the most severe shaking.

In addition to being prepared to respond quickly to claims, they are able to quantify and manage their earthquake risk with an accurate representation of loss potential. Even better, they can continue to monitor their exposure in the area, which may be further affected by aftershocks, government response, and developing humanitarian efforts.

To learn more about how SpatialKey’s robust data, crisp visualizations, and unmatched user experience can help you improve how you manage claims for better customer retention, contact us today.

Posted in weather, Earthquake | Leave a reply

Hurricane Patricia Shaping up to be the Strongest Hurricane in History

Posted on October 23, 2015 by Sarah Stadler


Rapidly turning into a category 5 storm overnight, Hurricane Patricia is nearing the coast of Mexico with wind speeds of up to 200mph. Hurricane Ike topped out at 143mph, and Andrew at 175mph, leaving Patricia as the strongest hurricane ever recorded. With landfall expected this afternoon or evening, properties are bound to be destroyed, and insurers are preparing themselves for the impact.

Hurricane Patricia Wind Pattern - SpatialKey

50,000 people are being evacuated, and the town of Manzanilla is right on Patricia’s path. According to reports from CNN, a 30-foot storm surge is expected in Manzanilla’s bay, which is likely to cause flooding and landslides. Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco are the closest resort towns, and some are predicting that Puerto Vallarta will see winds up to 75mph - many businesses there are preparing for the storm by boarding and taping up windows. Our thoughts are with everyone bracing for such a devastating storm.

Wind speed visualized
Patricia’s winds are record-setting, clocking in at 200mph and holding steady - enough to carry an airplane and keep it in flight, according to World Meteorological Organization spokeswoman Clare Nullis. We can see here that a number of properties are vulnerable to the potential destruction from the combination of wind and water that this hurricane is predicted to produce.

Hurricane Patricia Potential Impact - SpatialKey

How this could impact your portfolio
With resort towns Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco threatened, insurers are likely to see some potential property claims after the storm clears. Understanding how much of your portfolio is exposed helps you figure out what to do next. With our direct integration with NOAA, insurers can immediately track the storm as updates are released. We’re here to help - contact us now.

Posted in weather, Hurricane, Insurance, Visualization, Analytics, Data visualization, Event response | Leave a reply

Understanding the Impact... Illinois Tornadoes 11/17/2013

Posted on November 19, 2013 by Rebecca Morris


To help businesses respond to the devastating tornadoes experienced across Illinois on November 17th, Willis Re has made preliminary footprints of the tornadoes available to SpatialKey clients free of charge and without restriction. Other experts, like Weather Decision Technologies (see Moore, OK article), are also analyzing the scope and impact of this event, and their data can be provided upon request.

You can leverage expert intelligence to quantify the impact to your operations and customers in an instant. The Willis Re footprint data is available for immediate use via the SpatialKey Data Mart. Simply, select the tornado footprints and overlay insured data to quickly estimate your exposure and to evaluate response scenarios. These footprints can be analyzed in SpatialKey's Map Analyst and Severe Storms applications.

Compliments of Willis Re, the "Preliminary EF4 Washington Track 11/17/13" file (left image below) takes a closer look at Washington, IL, and the "Preliminary Tornado Tracks 11/17/13" file (right image below) provides a preliminary footprint of the 13 areas impacted by tornadoes on November 17th.

Additionally, within the Severe Storms application, you can visualize these tracks (in red and green) alongside integrated Storm Prediction Center reports available from the National Weather Service. Here, you have the ability to create your own storm track (in blue) and apply damage assumptions to estimate your potential exposure.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 12.50.12 PM

Visualize the impact in SpatialKey

With the footprint from Willis Re and analytics from SpatialKey, you can quickly quantify your exposure. SpatialKey has provided ready access to this footprint within the Data Mart, under the Featured section. Just pick the “Preliminary Tornado Tracks 11/17/13" and "Preliminary EF4 Washington Track 11/17/13" files to use in your analysis.

There are not too many locations in the direct path of the tornado for my dataset, but there is likely damage in close proximity to the path. To understand the impact within 5 miles of the swath, you can apply a buffer, which will include locations within that buffer in your analysis.

You can add analytic pods to understand the composition of those exposures, what claims personnel you may have responding already, and which business operations are most impacted by insured losses.

If you would like to build your own storm track and apply damage assumptions for different buffers around that track, you can use the Storm Drawing Tool in the Severe Storms app.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 5.43.28 PM

With SpatialKey's easy-to-use visual analytics and Willis Re's tornado footprints, you can expedite the identification and quantification of your potential exposure and begin mobilizing your response. We hope this collaborative effort will help you deliver assistance and relief to those in need.


Posted in weather, Event Analysis, Analytics, tornado, Event response | Leave a reply

Map of May 20 and 31 Oklahoma Tornadoes with Population Density

Posted on June 4, 2013 by Doug McCune


The past two weeks have been devastating for Oklahoma. Multiple tornadoes have touched down in and around Oklahoma City, causing massive damage and the loss of 42 lives. First, on the afternoon of May 20, 2013 an EF5 tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma. Then only 11 days later a series of tornadoes hit the same general area, striking El Reno/Yukon (to the west of Oklahoma City) and multiple sites within Oklahoma City (the western, central, and eastern areas of the city were all hit).

SpatialKey has been working to analyze the destruction of these tornadoes. Our data partner, Weather Decision Technologies (WDT), has created hand-drawn paths of the affected areas. These paths paint a grim picture of the destruction in Oklahoma. We've overlaid these paths on a population density map to allow us to understand how many people were impacted, and which strikes had the most effect.

View the map below or view a larger version.

Interacting with the map

At high zoom levels the map shows the storm tracks overlaid on a dot-density population map. Mouse over the storm tracks to see a tooltip that shows how many people and housing units are within that track.

When you zoom in the map will change to show satellite imagery. The census blocks switch to colored shapes that are colored based on the population of that block. Mouse over those blocks to see a tooltip showing the stats for that individual census block.

Estimated population impact

Overall we estimate that approximately 34,000 people were within the affected paths of these tornadoes. This is a rough estimate based on the intersection of the tornado paths with census data.

Affected area Estimated Population Date
Moore/Newcastle 9,000 5/20/2013
El Reno/Yukon 300 5/31/2013
West Oklahoma City 800 5/31/2013
Central Oklahoma City 17,500 5/31/2013
East Oklahoma City 6,500 5/31/2013




About the map

The map shows the paths of the tornadoes overlaid on a population dot density map. The population data is from the 2010 US census, and is granular to the census block level. Each tiny dot represents a single person.

Red dots are used for people within the tornado paths, while blue dots are used for people outside the paths. By layering the population dots we can get a picture of population density. We can see that the tornado that hit central Oklahoma City tore through a populated area, versus the tornado that hit El Reno or east Oklahoma City missed dense areas.

About the data

The tornado paths for the storms on May 31 were provided by WDT and were hand-drawn by their meteorologists. The path for the May 20 Moore tornado was created by NOAA.

The population and housing data comes from the 2010 US census. The census data provides polygon block shapes with population counts and the number of housing units within each block. We have converted that polygon data to point data by filling the shapes with a random distribution of points, one for each person, throughout each individual census block.

The map also uses the Toner basemap from Stamen Design, as well as satellite imagery from MapBox.

If you're a SpatialKey customer, you already have access to the tornado path data, both from WDT and NOAA, which is available in the SpatialKey Data Mart.

Posted in weather, damage assessment, tornado, Event response | Leave a reply