Uncertain European Windstorm Season Upon Us: Claims mitigation and response should be ready

by Jen Smoldt on November 6, 2017

Aileen (also known as Sebastian) was the first named storm of the European windstorm season, bringing a healthy dose of what could be to come. Still, uncertainty pervades the 2017-18 season. Will it be benign, like past seasons, or will we see a higher frequency and severity of storms? 

The 2016-17 season saw five named storms (Angus, Barbara, Conor, Doris, Ewan) causing an estimated £639 million (US$680m). And while it was a less than average year in terms of losses (windstorms typically generate £1.1 billion in insured losses annually), the elusive nature of windstorms coupled with an uncertain forecast, point to preparation as the only safe strategy. Ex-hurricane Ophelia, which reached the British Isles with unusual wind intensity for a dissipating Atlantic hurricane, may already account for a good chunk of that annual amount with damages in Ireland alone potentially reaching $1.8 billion.

If there’s one lesson to be learned from this year’s Atlantic hurricane season forecast, which has been on par with two-five Category 3 or stronger storms, it’s that it failed to foretell the frequency and severity of the back-to-back hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria) that have now devastated the Caribbean, Virgin Islands, and parts of Texas. Only time will tell about this windstorm season, but one thing is certain: there is no room for complacency.

Prepare now with access to sophisticated data and analytics

Because windstorm weather systems are large, they can impact policies within an expansive geographic area, including multiple countries. Having an advanced analytics solution in place for response and mitigation is paramount for prompt, accurate operations and outreach. Many insurers, however, are still encumbered by legacy systems and claims processes.

Insurers who are prepared with access to the right data and analytics can avoid the following:

  • Delayed response to insureds
  • Lack of data for operations planning
  • Uncertainty in the quantity and magnitude of claims

To solve these analytic challenges, SpatialKey and Willis Re collaborated to develop the European Windstorm event response application which integrates data from multiple sources, including expert content from EuroTempest and Météo-France. Accessible through SpatialKey’s self-serve analytics platform, the app allows an insurer to combine their own data with expert content and then apply SpatialKey’s visualization features to determine the impact, derive insight, and quickly take action. In this way, insurers can compete more effectively by managing resources to respond to potential claims before those claims are filed—resulting in improved customer satisfaction and retention.

How the European Windstorm app helps control claims costs:

  • Advanced outreach to policyholders helps insurers to take disaster preparation actions that reduce claims costs, such as securing outdoor items, shuttering windows, use of sandbags, and other measures.
  • Knowing where claims are most likely to occur allows an insurer to target resource deployment; ultimately enabling claims to be settled more quickly which in turn limits claims leakage and fraud.
  • Ascertaining where windspeeds reached damaging levels allows for faster identification of potential claims. This helps insurers differentiate policies that are most likely to experience wind loss from those that may experience damage from excluded hazards not covered by a policy.

Event footprints within SpatialKey can be used not only to view forecast windspeeds, but observed windspeeds following the event. Special features within the app facilitate further competitive differentiation, including multiple windstorm forecasts from multiple data sources, identification of individual policies at risk, and claims frequency estimation.

Below is a screenshot from last season’s Storm Doris/Thomas taken from SpatialKey. Data from Météo-France and EuroTempest is seamlessly integrated for multiple views of risk, reducing the time and effort required to assess a storm’s potential impact. Additionally, wind footprints from these data providers can be used to readily identify policies in an existing portfolio subject to the largest windspeeds, thereby allowing an insurer to prioritize proactive outreach and claims operations functions. 

Doris Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 9.46.01 AM.png

In this screenshot, data from EuroTempest is visualized within SpatialKey, providing insurers with self-serve analytics to pinpoint risk and then drill down for more detailed analysis. This enables insurers to be both proactive and accurate in claims estimations.

Willis Re and SpatialKey’s collaboration demonstrates how bringing together best-in-class data with the most robust analytics—all in one platform—can empower insurers to quickly minimize loss and maximize profitability, for minimal investment in time or training.

Another windstorm will happen. The question is, “Will you be prepared?” With the right data and analytics in your corner, you can face uncertain times with certain measures. Contact us to find out more about the European Windstorm event response application, or watch a quick demo now.

Topics: Severe Storms, Event Analysis, Event response, windstorm, claims, European Windstorm

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