Covering All Bases: Modeling Typhoon and Non-Typhoon Driven Flood in the Philippines

In a country that is used to the regular rhythm of typhoon seasons, 2017 disrupted the pattern and was a surprisingly quiet year in terms of landfalling typhoons in the Philippines. While 26 named storms formed in the western North Pacific basin, equaling the long-term average, all other tropical cyclone statistics fell below the 1981-2010 average. Only 12 of these named storms developed into typhoons, and just four reached a strength of category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson scale. No typhoons made landfall in the Philippines during the year for only the fifth time in recorded history.

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A Few Words About Exceedance Before You Go

With Exceedance beginning in just a few days, I wanted to send a quick reminder regarding all there is to see and do, starting Monday, May 14 with our pre-conference activities.

Get Ready for This Year’s Tracks and Sessions, The Lab, Keynote Speakers, and Hands-On Training Opportunities

This year’s Exceedance agenda reflects our commitment to deliver value to clients in a rapidly changing market, including the latest advances and innovations in our science and products.

You will come away with valuable and actionable insights through this year’s keynote speakers, a variety of informative tracks and sessions, and The Lab, offering opportunities for in-depth engagement with RMS experts.

For information on the above, visit the conference website.

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Starting the Trend Toward More Differentiated Risk Selection and Pricing

There has always been a balance between cross-subsidy and property-specific, risk-based underwriting and pricing in insurance, particularly for homeowners’ policies. While an actuary can easily quantify differences in fire risk for houses constructed from wood versus concrete based on claims, this becomes much more difficult when the peril concerned is infrequent, such as for earthquake or flood. Clearly risk models help to bridge this gap, but facilitating a move from cross-subsidy to risk-based pricing is more complex than simply using risk analytics. Factors such as regulation, market conditions, distribution channels and insurer IT systems all determine whether individual insurers and markets will move towards greater differentiation of risk. This is not to mention the political dimension of insurance affordability and social equity.

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The Happy Face of Retrofitting

Corina Sutter is Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at RMS, and is based in London. She joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Corina’s account of her time in Nepal.

When you think about strengthening a building to make it more resilient to seismic events, does “retrofitting” come top of mind? And if you have heard of retrofitting, do you know why it is more cost-effective, and in many instances more suitable than simply rebuilding? This awareness challenge is what Build Change faces in Nepal; with regards to retrofitting not everyone is aware or convinced — yet.

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Using Catastrophe Models to Promote Resilience

Arriving in Kathmandu for the 2018 RMS Impact Trek, I was already aware of the many years that RMS has provided support for Build Change and its work in areas worst hit by catastrophic disasters. Our first day in the Build Change office was a crash course in their local objectives and challenges. Day Two saw us on a field trip to nearby Kirtipur to survey common building practices. It was a lot of information to process and it was not immediately clear to me what “impact” we could make during our short visit.

But it was later in the week — when, admittedly, the jet lag finally wore off — that I finally caught on.

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Geocoding: The Underappreciated Science of Catastrophe Modeling

“Geocoding”’ is the ability to assign descriptive address information to portfolio locations for the purposes of assessing hazard at a given location. It is a core step that takes place within the catastrophe modeling process, ranging from a single location assessment to bulk look-ups for an entire portfolio.

Despite advances in peril mapping and geocoding technology, the geocoding process often remains a challenge. Here we consider these challenges and how the quality of the data can be improved.

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The HayWired Earthquake Scenario: An RMS View on Fire Following Earthquake Risk

New findings into the effect of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake originating from the 74 mile-long (119 kilometer) Hayward Fault in the California Bay Area, suggests that fire following earthquake alone could see more than 52,000 single-family homes burn. Earlier this month, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released new results for their HayWired scenario, a scientifically plausible magnitude 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward fault. The hypothetical HayWired earthquake occurs at 4:18 p.m. on April 18, 2018, the anniversary of the magnitude  7.8 earthquake which struck San Francisco in 1906. The mainshock ruptures the fault along its length for about 52 miles (83 kilometers). The impact of such an event on one of the most densely populated and interconnected areas of the U.S. West Coast — with a population of about seven million people — would be disruptive.

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An Unexpected Opportunity: Presenting at the Fifteenth National Convention of Engineers

Jochen Woessner is a lead modeler in earthquake model development at RMS, and is based in Zurich. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Jochen’s account of his time in Nepal.

“I am sorry, you have only five minutes, please focus on the conclusion of your work,” said the convener G. Pokharel to Liva Shrestha, the local lead structural engineer for Build Change and myself when we sat down on the panel chairs of the session entitled “Disaster Risk Management and Prevention”. This session was on day three of the Fifteenth National Convention of Engineers in Kathmandu, organized by the Nepali Engineers’ Association. Liva calmly walked to the podium and started giving her talk on goals and achievements of Build Change. My thoughts started circling. “How could I best condense my 25-minute presentation into a clear five-minute summary?”

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A Tour of Kirtipur

Callum Higgins is senior product analyst at RMS, and is based in London. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Callum’s account of his time in Nepal.

On the first day of the Impact Trek, we were based at Build Change’s office in Kathmandu, hearing about the various projects the charity is working on in Nepal from Jessica Stanford (Housing Reconstruction Program Manager), as well as the technological innovations Build Change is using to increase the efficiency of their work from Adam McDonald (New Frontier Technology Architect). For day two, the Impact Trekkers were keen to get out of the office and into the city to examine some of the typical property construction in the region and the challenges that Build Change faces in making a greater proportion of these safe from earthquakes.

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Rural Retrofitting in Nepal With Build Change

Christopher Allen is senior analyst – model development, working within the Event Response team at RMS, and is based in London. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Chris’s account of his time in Nepal.

On Wednesday, March 21, eight somewhat-still-jetlagged RMS Impact Trekkers left the Summit Hotel in Kathmandu bound for the village of Dhunkharka, three hours’ drive southeast of the capital. We were going to see some of the retrofitting work that was being done by Build Change, a social enterprise partner of RMS that aims to build local capacity for safer construction practices. As we weaved our way through Kathmandu traffic (a chaotic affair at the best of times) we noticed several of the characteristics of the capital’s buildings that had been pointed out to us by Build Change over the past few days: soft story, three-floor brick masonry, new construction sprouting up with reinforced concrete columns, the occasional ground floor still occupied by goats or buffalo…

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