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It is a real-world issue that corporate risk managers confront frequently: Their organizations are considering construction of a new corporate facility, and top management wants to know the building's storm exposure.
Now, using an app developed by Pembroke, Bermuda-based reinsurer PartnerRe Ltd., available as a free iPad download from Apple Inc.'s App Store, members of the insurance industry, buyers and individuals can access information about more than 1,100 historical windstorms across the North Atlantic basin and Europe in the past 100 years.
The app shows “the exposure and frequency of storm hazards,” said Brian Secrett, PartnerRe's head of catastrophe reinsurance in Zurich. “This is about conveying knowledge about what has happened. From that, you can derive the likelihood of a meaningful event.”
By typing in “Katrina,” a map of much of the United States, the Caribbean and part of South America pops up. It shows Hurricane Katrina's path in 2005, with colors denoting the intensity of the storm, ranging from Category 1 to Category 5.
By typing in a year, a viewer can see all windstorms that occurred during that year, including their names and strength. By clicking on the storm name, the viewer can track the storm's path.
Yet another approach is to type in a location. For example, by typing in “Miami,” the years in which storms occurred affecting the city are listed at the bottom with color-coded intensity levels. Then by clicking on the year, storm information pops up. In the Miami example, after typing in 1992, information about Hurricane Andrew comes up, including its path and its intensity along that path, as well as its starting and ending date.
The app has not gone unnoticed. Since it was released last September, it has been downloaded by hundreds of users in 38 countries. Individual storm footprints have been downloaded more than 3,000 times.
The app's features have earned it a 2014 Innovation Award from Business Insurance.
An upcoming update will include 2013 storms, as well as adding Asia-Pacific wind fields, enabling a comprehensive world view, according to PartnerRe.
All of the entries for the 2014 Business Insurance Innovation Awards were reviewed by an independent panel of judges, all of whom are risk management professionals.