Monthly Archives: September 2017

Hurricane Irma: The Exposure Variable

11:00 UTC  Thursday, September 7

Rhett Austell, director – Client Solutions, RMS

In the days leading up to landfall for a major hurricane such as Irma, you will find RMS employees and clients glued to their devices. We are all reading weather blogs, studying RMS HWind snapshots, monitoring Twitter, and sharing each other’s projections and observations on LinkedIn. This is all to get the latest view on a dynamic system – what is the maximum sustained wind? What is the Rmax? Central pressure? What is the integrated kinetic energy?

In such a dynamic situation, it is important to also consider what is static: the concentration of exposure within the hurricane uncertainty cone. In the most general sense, the industry insured loss for such an event is a function of the physical characteristics of the storm and the scale of exposure that is impacted. As has been stated elsewhere on the RMS blog, loss scenarios will vary significantly depending on the concentrations of exposure underlying the event footprint. For hurricanes, a few miles can be the difference between a footnote on a quarterly earnings statement or front page headlines. This was the story last year with Hurricane Matthew after it “wobbled” to the east and spared much of southeast Florida.

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Gearing Up for Irma: Using RMS Modeling to Generate Potential Loss Estimates

23:30 UTC  Wednesday, September 6

Tom Sabbatelli, hurricane risk expert, RMS

Hot on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, Irma looks like it could be the second major landfall in the U.S. this season, as it currently moves towards the Caribbean as a category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds around 185 miles per hour (297 kilometers per hour).

As always, the RMS Event Response starts early in the life of tropical storms, to provide the latest commentary, following up with RMS HWind footprints as data becomes available and providing initial sets of stochastic event selections around 48 hours before landfall. RMS Event Response practices have been designed to best serve our clients and the industry as a whole, and speculation of industry losses whilst such uncertainty remains can be counterproductive. Clients can see full information on the RMS Event Response processes by reading the following document available on RMS Owl.

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Irma: Using Cat in a Box Tools to Assess Scenarios

22:30 UTC  Wednesday, September 6

Sam Gibson, director – Consulting, RMS

With Irma moving swiftly through the Caribbean as a Category 5 hurricane, currently producing sustained winds around 185 miles per hour (297 kilometres per hour), concern is building as to the potential impacts of another major hurricane landfalling in the U.S. Although Irma’s actual path as it approaches Florida is very uncertain, there are analytical techniques available to help gain insight into the range of potential damage.

The RMS Cat in a Box (CIAB) application is designed for the assessment of parametric contracts, and can evaluate the probability of storms intersecting a specific geographic region whilst having certain severity characteristics. The application will output the list of events which intersect these areas and produce the associated Exceedance Probability (EP) curve.

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Flood Risk, NFIP and the Role of Reinsurance

Shortly after its landfall, my colleague, Ben Brookes, and I drew attention in the RMS live Harvey updates to the fact that the storm was “not a wind event.” Like Sandy, flood losses, we wrote, would quickly overtake wind losses.

We recalled how Dr. Robert Muir-Wood had insisted back in February 2014 that “water is the new wind.” Those with exposure in harm’s way, he argued, needed to “get to grips with the details of modeling and managing hurricane-driven flood risk.”

It was unsurprising, then, to hear Robert on BBC World News last week describing Hurricane Harvey’s destruction as absolutely avoidable. Yes, Harvey is an extreme event. There were, however, historical precedents for stalling rain storms — and there are clear business cases for investing in resilience before extreme events, rather than just responding after.

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NFIP Losses from Harvey Estimated to Reach US$7-10 Billion

Pete Dailey, vice president – Product Management, RMS

On Wednesday, RMS reported that, based on our modeling, the overall combined wind, surge, and inland flood losses from Hurricane Harvey will be US$70-90 billion. My colleague, Daniel Stander, had previously also pointed out that “economic losses from Harvey will outstrip insured losses by a considerable margin.” That’s because the uptake of private flood insurance in the U.S. is very limited.

RMS continues to refine its estimate of the insured losses from Harvey. In the meantime, I think it’s worth looking in more detail at the potential exposure of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to this major hurricane.

Last Monday, Daniel wrote that it was likely that “Harvey will produce at least US$4 billion in flood claims, triggering the NFIP reinsurance program.” With NFIP up next month for reauthorization and reform, this is an important point — and not just for the 25 reinsurers underwriting over US$1 billion of NFIP’s claims.

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Hurricane Harvey: Impact on Marine Cargo

Chris Folkman, director – Product Management, RMS

Rajkiran Vojjala, vice president – Modeling, RMS

As Hurricane Harvey barreled eastward from Houston, Port of Houston officials spoke of restarting operations by Labor Day (Monday, September 4) after its channels are checked for shoaling and obstructions. The eighth busiest container port in the U.S. reported no major damage to its terminals, warehouses or storage facilities, and traffic was diverted to other regional ports and processing facilities away from the storm’s path. Maritime officials, it seems, have learned lessons from Superstorm Sandy, where cargo was hastily unstacked in anticipation of high winds before a devastating storm surge caused extensive damage to cargo, chassis, and port warehouses.

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Harvey Shows the Advantage of Cloud Solutions When “Time to Insight” is Crucial

Farhana Alarakhiya, vice president – Products, RMS

Hurricane Harvey continues to be top of mind at the RMS offices. On Wednesday, RMS hosted a client webinar where Mark Powell, Tom Sabbatelli and Pete Dailey discussed how we have applied our methodology developed for the RMS U.S. High Definition (HD) Flood Model to provide insights to the extent and severity of the flooding from Harvey, with Houston as our top priority. This effort has resulted in a high-fidelity hazard inundation map which is now available to all RMS clients.

For clients on the RMS(one)® platform who use Exposure Manager, this effort goes one step further. We automatically seed the Harvey hazard layer in the client tenant, to deliver instantaneous access to analytic insights from the U.S. Inland Flood HD Model.  This models all sources of flooding across space and time, and can also be used to identify and differentiate locations at risk based on flood extent and severity.

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