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2018 Innovation Awards: PathogenRX

2018 Innovation Awards: PathogenRX

Marsh LLC, Metabiota Inc., Munich Re

Fear of the unknown can be disastrous for a company’s bottom line.

That’s particularly true for businesses such as hospitality and tourism that depend on a steady flow of customers. An outbreak of a disease such as Zika can dry up that flow, cutting into a company’s profits.

But fear is a hard thing to measure.

That uncertainty led Marsh LLC to partner with San Francisco-based epidemic risk modeling company Metabiota Inc. and Munich Reinsurance Co. to offer a remedy to pandemic-related revenue losses by creating PathogenRX, a 2018 Business Insurance Innovation Awards winner.

The product uses Metabiota’s Pathogen Sentiment Index to estimate public fear and the way behavior could change in the face of major disease outbreaks. Businesses can model the loss arising from an outbreak and protect their balance sheets against the potential loss through an insurance policy underwritten by Munich Re.

The policy can be customized to meet the coverage needs of clients. Hospitality and gaming, travel and tourism, aviation, and sports and events are among the target industries for the policy.

“In the non-property damage (business interruption) world, pandemics have traditionally fallen out of the scope of what can be identified and measured for a policy,” said Jen Bruursema, a vice president of marketing and sales at Metabiota who helped develop the product. “That’s because pandemics are very difficult to predict in terms of where they’re going to emerge and how long they’re going to last.”

“The Sentiment Index is very, very unique; that score can be impacted,” said Christian Ryan, Marsh managing director and U.S. hospitality, sports and entertainment practice leader in Dallas. “Clients can see the index, and if something happens anywhere around the world, the index is adjusted. It’s very, very simple.”

“The various pathogens have different profiles for how the public looks at infectious disease,” said Ms. Bruursema. “Each pathogen gets its own unique scores based on how frightening those symptoms might be. If this threshold or score is reached, the likelihood is consumers aren’t likely to go to various events or proceed with travel.”

“Risk managers have been planning on operational things that they need to do to prepare for an epidemic or pandemic,” such as crisis communication, said Ms. Bruursema. “But none of these risk managers have felt safe on the balance-sheet side of their operations. This new solution of PathogenRX for the first time gives them the same way to estimate what this event would cost their organizations.”

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