Satellite image of a river delta

Insurers work with space agency to improve flood solutions

Enabling innovative insurance solutions is the goal of a joint project between the European Space Agency and the insurance industry to provide satellite-based detailed flood footprints to re/insurers.

Swiss Re is among a group of insurance industry companies working with the European Space Agency on a project to improve flood insurance solutions.  The joint effort between satellite operators, earth observation service providers and the insurance industry will provide detailed flood footprints based on satellite data. The goal is to lay the groundwork to enable innovative insurance solutions.

According to Jens Mehlhorn, Head Flood at Swiss Re, the project will close a large gap in detailed flood information during and after events. "While the information was generally available, it was not standardized for the use of the insurance industry," he says.

The flood footprint project features an automated process for data generation and exchange. In case of a large flood event in Europe, daily updates on inundated areas will be produced. A detailed footprint will be made available to the insurance industry four weeks after the event.

The flood event footprint information will be made available for download on a platform run by PERILS, an independent company that provides natural catastrophe and claims data for the insurance industry. The complete service chain including the flood footprint generation process and data provision is available as of 1 September 2012.

Mehlhorn is enthusiastic about the project: "This not only will improve the flood insurance solutions but we'll also be able to enhance the post event loss estimates and to deploy the loss adjusters more efficiently. Last but not least the flood footprints will foster the development of parametric flood solution like Cat Bonds."

In addition to Swiss Re, the flood footprint project is supported by Munich Re, Allianz, PERILS AG, EqeCat, Willis, Guy Carpenter, Sertit and Vista.

Published 12 September 2012

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