Newark, Calif. - January 31, 2013 Last week, research resumed on the highly virulent H5N1 avian influenza viruses after a year-long ban. With the controversial lifting of the moratorium, researchers will now try to increase the transmissibility or virulence of H5N1 to help prepare vaccines and other medical treatments in case of a pandemic. According to analysis from RMS' infectious disease model, however, pursuing this 'gain of function' research increases the chance of a man-made H5N1 pandemic. While the probability of such an event occurring remains low, insurance companies need to ensure they have enough capital to manage the risk.
"Laboratory experimentation remains controversial because of the possibility of creating a super flu that might not have occurred naturally. The H5N1 influenza virus is highly virulent and rapidly mutating, and its evolution, through either natural or laboratory means, could pose the most significant pandemic threat of the modern era," commented Dr. Maura Sullivan, senior director of LifeRisks at RMS.
To help inform the debate, RMS, which specializes in the quantification of extreme risk for the insurance and financial services industries, has used its infectious disease model to simulate scenarios for pandemics that could result from the escape of a virus from a research laboratory. It estimates that there is a small but significant likelihood of an escaped lab pathogen triggering a global pandemic. Commenting on the implications for insurers, Dr. Andrew Coburn, senior vice president of LifeRisks at RMS, said: "In the long run, if this research results in good vaccines, then it could reduce pandemic risk by 30%, but in the short term the research itself poses an increased risk. For risk managers looking to stress test their Solvency II capital requirements, RMS' model indicates that an additional 5% in capital may be required to compensate for a possible man-made pandemic occurring as a result of the lifting of the research ban."
In nature, H5N1 has infected over 600 people globally, typically via direct contact with an infected bird, and killed around 60% of those infected. According to RMS' analysis, a H5N1 virus that is as transmissible as the 1918 Spanish flu could result in tens of millions of deaths worldwide. Transmissible viruses produced in the laboratory are not yet as deadly as avian flu in the wild, but the new round of research is aimed at achieving this.
H5N1 influenza research currently requires biosafety level three laboratories rather than the maximum security level four. Researchers are resisting upgrading to level four because they argue that it will slow research progress. Historical laboratory-acquired infections demonstrate that biosafety measures occasionally fail, and if a pandemic were to occur from a laboratory escape, there is a wide range of potential outcomes.
"We need to ensure an appropriate level of laboratory safety to balance the increased risk with the public health benefit," said Dr. Sullivan. "The research community alone should not be solely responsible for regulating practices that could significantly increase infectious disease mortality risk for all. Even a mild epidemic with limited mortality can have catastrophic economic impacts."
The potential severity of a global pandemic makes it imperative that a full risk assessment is carried out, including the possible threats and benefits of allowing future research, to ensure that research is well-controlled and carried out under the appropriate security levels.
Newark, CA – March 22, 2021 – RMS, the world’s leading catastrophe risk solutions company, today announced the forthcoming launch of a new suite of Climate Change Models to help customers assess the near and long term impacts of climate change on physical assets and their businesses, in order to make the best possible risk and financial decisions. According to RMS CEO, Karen White, “Today there are no robust or consistent frameworks that can quantify the physical risks posed by catastrophes in a changing climate at the depth required. The innovative suite of RMS Climate Change Models changes that, giving the market a powerful new set of tools. With increasing Board-level attention, stakeholder scrutiny, and regulatory pressure, businesses need to operationalize climate change analytics to make better decisions and enable better transparency. It is clear that the financial impacts of climate change are not solely a “future problem”. The increasing incidence of wildfires, floods and hurricanes mean that climate change insights need to be incorporated into financial decisions that are being made today, in parallel with long term strategic planning and meeting increasing regulatory, environmental, social and governance (ESG) and TCFD reporting requirements, and investor and customer demands. This necessitates a climate change framework and models fully consistent with today’s catastrophe risk analytics and one which addresses the challenges posed by physical climate change risk and its broad impact across all relevant time scales – from today through to the end of the century.” Most RMS models, including all major peril models, already incorporate the impact of climate change up until now – but more is required to meet the evolving and significant market needs. The new RMS Climate Change Models take our existing capabilities further with forward-looking predictive insights and analysis. The new Climate Change Models empower RMS’s economic modeling framework with the best climate science consensus, including from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The new models will be generally available in June for major peril models North Atlantic Hurricane, Europe Inland Flood and Europe Windstorm. Further models and geographies will follow this initial model suite launch. The RMS climate change solutions also include climate change specialist advisory and consulting expertise and regulatory, ESG and TCFD support. The Climate Change Models address the perils most impacted by climate change and feature: Probabilistic modeling to capture events across different climate change scenarios The ability to adjust time horizons and Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) A proprietary industry and economic exposure database to deliver more accurate and impactful climate change models Embeddable software which integrates into existing workflows to facilitate seamless and easy operationalization Consulting and additional expertise supporting regulatory submissions and activities, and providing insights from these new models today Commenting on the RMS climate change solutions, Eric Letourneau, SVP, Group Head of CAT Accumulation Management, QBE, said: “The insights on climate risk provided by RMS have enabled us to better understand climate-related risks and opportunities for our business, to report those insights to financial stakeholders, and to develop and test strategy for our business. We can embed these analytics in our business processes, confident that we have consistency with how we measure underwriting risk and capital requirements now and in the future.” The new RMS Climate Change Models, data, and analytics empower organizations to: Understand the impacts climate change may have on capital and assets today and in the future Price and manage risks to better reflect changing conditions Confidently communicate risks posed by climate change to all stakeholders Comply with regulatory submissions in an efficient and sustainable way RMS has been modeling natural catastrophe risk for the insurance industry for more than 30 years and has been leading research into the impact of climate change on catastrophic losses since RMS’s involvement in the 2007 4th IPCC Assessment Report. You can learn more about RMS Climate Change solutions here: https://www.rms.com/climate-change
NEWARK, Calif. – March 17, 2021 – RMS®, the world’s leading catastrophe risk solutions company, and TigerRisk Partners, the leading risk, capital, and strategic advisor to the global insurance and reinsurance industry, today announced the expansion of their partnership to include additional models and data in a new multiyear agreement. With this agreement, TigerRisk can now access the full RMS global natural catastrophe risk models suite. This includes RMS High Definition Models™ such as the RMS North America Wildfire HD Models, RMS Europe Flood HD Models, and RMS Europe Severe Convective Storm HD Models. This complements TigerRisk’s longstanding implementation of the RMS natural catastrophe view of risk in the U.S. on RMS RiskLink®. “We are committed to providing our clients with best-in-class solutions as they navigate this volatile risk landscape,” said Rod Fox, chief executive officer of TigerRisk. “Our clients depend on us to help them maintain a competitive edge, and it’s important we work alongside organizations that can help us support their needs. Our expanded partnership with RMS ensures that we can increase the value we bring to our clients and continue to deliver solutions for managing global risk profitably.” Karen White, chief executive officer of RMS, said, “TigerRisk Partners has established themselves as an innovative reinsurance broker and capital advisor firm in the market. As a valued partner of RMS for over a decade, their investment in analytics aimed at providing the best insights and services for their clients mirrors our commitment to the market. We look forward to continuing to support TigerRisk with the most trusted view of risk in the industry as they grow their business and enhance their services.”
Newark, CA – December 15, 2020 – RMS, the world’s leading catastrophe risk solutions company, estimates insured losses from the record-breaking western U.S. wildfires this season will be between US$7.0 and US$13.0 billion. These losses reflect estimates as of December 1, 2020 and represent an update from the previously estimated losses from fires up to September 20, 2020. The ignition of the highly damaging Glass Fire and additional spread of the CZU and LNU Complex Fires represent the most notable activity in California since September 20. RMS insured losses represent estimates from major wildfires in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado at December 1, 2020: Region Insured Losses (USD $ bn) as of 1 December, 2020 Northern California Oregon and Washington Colorado 5.0 - 9.0 1.0 - 3.0 Up to 1.0 The RMS estimate includes losses from property damage, including evacuation and smoke damage, business interruption (BI), and additional living expenses (ALE) across residential, commercial, and industrial lines. Smoke and evacuation are expected to be significant contributors to losses for the wildfires this season, contributing about 20 percent of losses in California and Colorado and about 35 percent in Oregon and Washington. The estimate also accounts for notable post-event loss amplification (PLA) from property damage (25 to 30 percent) and business interruption/ALE (up to 100 percent or greater). The RMS loss estimate is based on detailed modeling of fire spread, ember accumulations, and smoke dispersion of the fires utilizing the U.S. Wildfire High-Definition (HD) Model, part of the North America Wildfire HD Model suite, released in February, 2019. The model covers the entire contiguous U.S. and explicitly simulates ember and smoke to support detailed analysis of the impact of a wildfire beyond historical fire perimeters. The model’s findings were supported by Damage Inspection Specialist (DINS) damage surveys for California Fires, published damage reports from federal and respective state agencies for the Oregon, Washington, and Colorado fires, and the RMS U.S. Wildfire Industry Exposure Database. Michael Young, Vice President, Product Management said: “2020 represents the most destructive fire season on record, in terms of burn area in California. Since August, 69 major fires that exceeded 1,000 burned acres each, have burned so far. Five of the six largest ever California wildfires have occurred in 2020, with over 4.4 million acres burned in total to date. While fires earlier in the season were dominated by ignitions sparked by the intense lightning storm in August, extreme wind-driven fires dominated the last few months. A similar phenomenon resulted in record-breaking fires in Oregon as well this season, with over 20 major fires driven by extreme winds, burning more than 1.2 million acres so far. In October, Colorado experienced its three largest destructive fires with more than 24 major fires burning 850,000 acres in total. Rajkiran Vojjala, Vice President, Model Development said: “This wildfire season reaffirms the growing catastrophic nature of this peril. Wildfire risk is clearly evolving, not only in California, but also in other states, as we observed in Oregon and Colorado. While changing climate patterns have significantly influenced the record-breaking fires this season, several other factors also profoundly affected the ignition potential and expected losses from these events in different ways. Most notable amongst them are the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) measures undertaken by utilities, preparedness and response of firefighters in Northern California despite COVID-19 challenges, and recent legislative actions governing wildfire claims settlement such as the California Senate Bill 872. RMS is currently engaged with various stakeholders in evaluating these factors and understanding their impact on the emerging risk profile of this peril as part of its wildfire modeling agenda.” END The technology and data used in providing this information is based on the scientific data, mathematical and empirical models, and encoded experience of scientists and specialists. As with any model of physical systems, particularly those with low frequencies of occurrence and potentially high severity outcomes, the actual losses from catastrophic events may differ from the results of simulation analyses. RMS SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL RESPONSIBILITIES, OBLIGATIONS AND LIABILITY WITH RESPECT TO ANY DECISIONS OR ADVICE MADE OR GIVEN AS A RESULT OF THE INFORMATION OR USE THEREOF, INCLUDING ALL WARRANTIES, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, WARRANTIES OF NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. IN NO EVENT SHALL RMS (OR ITS PARENT, SUBSIDIARY, OR OTHER AFFILIATED COMPANIES) BE LIABLE FOR DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES WITH RESPECT TO ANY DECISIONS OR ADVICE MADE OR GIVEN AS A RESULT OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS INFORMATION OR USE THEREOF.