Unlike most U.S. property and casualty insurance, whose take-up rates range from ten percent (California residential earthquake) to greater than 90 percent (for fire insurance), workers’ compensation insurance is required by law. In California, nearly all of the 18.5 million employees across the state are covered by workers’ compensation, whether through an employer’s policy or self-insurance. This enormous exposure generates more than US$18 billion in premium annually, and because California is an “exclusive remedy” state, injuries arising out of and in the course of employment resulting from an earthquake are not excluded. But how can the cost of this obligatory, high risk exposure be measured?
Welcome to the first in a series of informative blogs leading up to Exceedance 2018, May 14 – 17.
Preparations are well under way for this year’s event, which will be held at the InterContinental Miami — set on the Biscayne Bay waterfront in the heart of downtown’s thriving financial and business district.
On March 12, 2018, an EF2 tornado struck the Italian city of Caserta, located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of Naples. The tornado caused damage to cars, buildings, and road infrastructure, with 15 people reported injured.
This was a classical supercellular tornado. This type of tornado forms in a specific type of supercellular thunderstorm, which has the peculiarity of having a vortex of rising air inside — called a mesocyclone, and this is where tornadogenesis starts. Rainfall in the thunderstorm produces a downdraft, called rear-flank downdraft (RFD) in this case, which enters the mesocyclone from the back. The combined updraft (from the mesocyclone) and downdraft (from the RFD) create a tornado.
RMS has released its 2017 North Atlantic Hurricane Season Review documenting one of the most active, damaging, and costliest seasons on record. The 2017 season saw a total of 17 named storms, with ten of these storms reaching hurricane strength and occurring consecutively within a hyperactive period between August and October. The season will be remembered for its six major hurricanes and specifically for the impacts of three of these storms: Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
The islands of the Caribbean have a problem. The air and earth around them is unforgiving. They are some of the most hazardous places on the planet.
What makes many of these islands so beautiful and dramatic also reflects the catastrophic processes that have built the terrain — the earthquakes, eruptions, floods, and landslides. And these catastrophic processes in turn affect the island economies.
RMS recently hosted a two-day workshop for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on March 7-8, based at our Newark headquarters in California. The aim of the workshop was to both discuss and receive feedback from the scientific community on the interim update to the ongoing 2018 USGS National Seismic Hazard Map Project (NSHMP).
RMS works actively with the USGS and the community and has previously hosted USGS workshops to help facilitate scientific discussions and to improve understanding of earthquake hazard. The workshop was well attended by over 150 people from academia, the scientific community, and industry. A summary of the workshop can be found here.
A few years ago, West Africa was struck by an epidemic of Ebola, which killed more than ten thousand people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The first case of Ebola was a child who had been playing in a bat-infested tree. From him, the disease rapidly spread from person to person in a chain reaction of contagion. A quite different type of hemorrhagic disease is Lassa fever, which was first identified in 1969, and named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases were observed.
Flood risk is one of the most severe natural hazards in the United States, yet maybe it is one of the least well-managed, and least understood by insurers. It is not surprising that many insurers have chosen to stay on the sidelines of the U.S. flood insurance market, which has been dominated for more than 40 years by the state-backed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
But slowly, the hurdles to private sector involvement are starting to clear, through the combined efforts of the industry, FEMA, and even private citizens. It will be an exciting time for private insurers and Americans if the new flood reform bill, H.R. 2874 passes through the Senate, as measures in the bill include increased acceptance of private flood insurance by mortgage providers, easing of fixed claims limits, and open source access to FEMA’s extensive claims database.
Being prepared for, and recovering quickly from, any catastrophe is one hallmark of ensuring a more safe and resilient society. But in many catastrophe-prone communities around the globe, insurance penetration rates remain stiflingly low and, as a result, building codes are either non-existent, or inconsistently enforced. In Nepal for example, almost 90 percent of the population is without insurance, and both mitigation and recovery efforts after their devastating earthquake in April 2015 are still scaling slowly.