BLAZE – Swiss Re's parametric wildfire solution

Protection beyond physical damage

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Unfunded wildfire losses cause long term financial disruption

Wildfires are becoming increasingly common across our news screens, and a long term nightmare for many of the people, businesses and communities impacted. In 2017, direct economic losses from wildfires amounted to over USD 21 billion globally, the highest ever in a single year. 2018 gave no reprieve, with some of the costliest and most destructive wildfires in history (Swiss Re Institute). And yet, these losses only represent a fraction of the true economic impact.

Currently many indirect wildfire costs are uninsured, namely immediate recovery efforts, such as suppression and evacuation costs, and expedient infrastructure repair, and long-term economic impacts, such as increased debt servicing costs, depressed property values and decreased economic revenue generation. If unaddressed, affected communities rebound slowly, further exacerbating and compounding the impacts.

A straightforward solution to a growing concern

Swiss Re BLAZE helps regional governments, communities, forestry organisations, wineries, tourism industry and small business to recover fast after a major wildfire. Swiss Re has developed a state-of-the-art parametric risk transfer solution together with Dutch remote-sensing experts VanderSat. A straightforward burned area index forms the basis for an insurance which pays out as soon as the preset index conditions are met. Proceeds can be used to fund a variety of uninsured losses, including, but not limited to, lost tax revenues, fire suppression costs and immediate infrastructure recovery efforts.

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Track fires in near real-time

Swiss Re BLAZE is a parametric wildfire insurance solution that relies on high-resolution satellite images to determine where and how much of the landscape is charred by wildfire. The underpinning of BLAZE is 20 meter by 20 meter optical imagery from the Sentinel-2 satellite, launched in 2015.  Using a proprietary and academically peer-reviewed algorithm, our partner VanderSat translates the images from Sentinel-2 into a cumulative burned area for a predefined geographical region. The high spatial resolution of the satellite allows for a more precise definition of fire boundaries, and the ability to define the intricacies of the actual area burned within the fire boundaries.     

The insurance component of Swiss Re BLAZE operates in a simple and seamless manner, whereby the buyer defines the covered geography and the cumulative burned area amount, expressed either as a percent of the covered geography or hectares/acres, where he/she would like to start receiving a partial or full payout. And with the Sentinel-2 satellite passing over the same area every few days, monitoring of the development of the cumulative burned area and, thus, the insurance policy, can be done in near real time, allowing for rapid and prompt claims settlement.

Access the BLAZE viewer.
Note: Please use Chrome or Firefox for an optimal experience.

The BLAZE viewer is offered in partnership with VanderSat who provide the technology to monitor the fire situation on the ground. Before using the viewer you will need to create a login profile. VanderSat will then manage your ability to login and use the viewer.

 

Note:

As of now, Swiss Re BLAZE is available for the country of Portugal, the state of Utah, the Blue Ridge Mountain region in Australia and certain counties within the state of California. Tailoring BLAZE to specific client needs is a process that takes several weeks. This process includes developing and structuring the solution, such as determining triggers, limits and covered regions.

Swiss Re BLAZE is an insurance solution designed to cover currently uninsured losses. With BLAZE we attempt to address a variety of open issues in the wildfire insurance space, including the development and leveraging of new technology and the necessity for a stand-alone risk assessment methodology for a peril that has largely been rolled into all-risk indemnity property policies.

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