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Technology addresses climate risk

climate technology

Improved data and rapidly developing technology are helping companies better manage climate-related risks, with satellite imagery, internet of things sensors and machine learning being deployed.

Swiss Re Ltd. is making significant investments in technology and data assets to help insurers access tools that help improve safety and respond effectively after an event, said Pranav Pasricha, global head of property and casualty solutions at Swiss Re in New York.

The reinsurer recently partnered with Espoo, Finland-based Iceye Oy, a commercial radar satellite operator and flood monitoring provider. “Iceye’s ability to leverage synthetic aperture radar data to give us quick and accurate flood-related information gives us a critical capability to monitor natural catastrophe events,” Mr. Pasricha said.

Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co.’s remote sensor IoT technology issues real-time alerts to help prevent risks like water leaks, frozen pipes and power failures, using cellular rather than WiFi systems.

During the polar vortex in February “we had 10 times the number of power failure alerts and five times the number of frozen pipe alerts that we normally have in a given week,” said Gordon Hui, vice president of applied technology solutions at Hartford, Connecticut-based HSB, a unit of Munich Reinsurance Co.

A hospital in downtown Dallas equipped with the sensors was able to prevent a major loss when an alert came in that a roof hatch was open. If the open hatch had not been detected that could have triggered a water leak into an electrical panel during the storm, he said.

“This polar vortex proved to us that IoT is incredibly powerful in terms of a risk mitigation tool,” Mr. Hui said.

Being able to look back to understand how best to move forward is critical, especially as it relates to supply chain risk, said Alan Halaway, chief revenue officer at The Tomorrow Cos. Inc., a Boston-based weather intelligence company.

Tomorrow worked with Uber Technologies Inc. to understand how to create incentives for drivers in worsening weather conditions by combining the ride-sharing company’s historical data around demand and number of rides with Tomorrow’s real-time weather data. 

Through that historical process Uber has been able to automate algorithms that feed decisions around surge pricing and incentive programs, he said.

While data modeling, computer technology and artificial intelligence can help underwriters understand and evaluate climate risk, when it comes to reducing risk, basic tools such as flood barriers will make the difference between a major or minor event, said Katherine Klosowski, global vice president of natural hazards and structures at FM Global, in Johnston, Rhode Island.







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