2015 Extreme Weather Events in Review

From hurricanes to hail to droughts to tornadoes, 2015 was a busy year for extreme weather events. Drought in California continued to worsen, increasing the risk of wildfires. While record rainfall in Texas and Oklahoma alleviated drought, it caused severe flash flooding in Texas. There have been 25 Category 4-5 northern hemisphere tropical cyclones—the most on record to date, breaking the old record of 18 set in 1997 and 2004.

The Insurance Information Institute reported that insured losses from natural disasters in the United States in just the first half of 2015 totaled $12.6 billion—well above the $11.2 billion average in the first halves of 2000 to 2014.

Interstate Restoration provides a look at 2015 weather events:

storms_2015_infographic2

Climate Change’s Impact on Cities and Businesses

Growing populations around the globe have created larger cities, as well as greater concentrations of risk. It is projected that a rise in sea levels and increased intensity of events will amplify the impact of hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, floods and droughts. Because of this, climate change is seen as one of the biggest threats to cities and businesses and could account for an estimated 20% of the global GDP by the end of this century, according to “Business Unusual: Why the climate is changing the rules for our cities and SMEs” by AXA.

While some cities have worked to put resilience plans in place to reduce the impact of flooding and other disasters, there is much to be done and businesses are vulnerable, especially small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Only 26% of SMEs have taken action to protect themselves, yet 54% are worried about the impact climate change could have on their business, and the number rises to 75% in emerging markets, the study found.

AXA-SME impact

“These disasters would be magnified by the fact that populations and assets have never been so concentrated in disaster-prone areas,” Henri de Castries, chairman and CEO of AXA Group said in the report. “Half of the world’s population now resides in cities, often along coastlines, and this proportion is due to rise to nearly two-thirds by the middle of the century, representing some 6.4 billion people. It comes as little surprise, then, that 80% of the climate change adaptation costs for 2010-2050 would be borne by urban areas.”

According to the report, these are common elements of resilience planning:

  • Risk assessments to identify key vulnerabilities.
  • Adaptation of essential infrastructure to withstand changes to the environment.
  • Development of flood defenses to protect inhabited areas from flooding caused by extreme weather events and increased rainfall.
  • Urban planning and relocation of buildings, including adapting to future developments that allow greater resilience to the consequences of climate change.
  • Development of emergency warning and response plans—emergency response planning is a core pillar of resilience strategy.
  • Community engagement and awareness-raising activities.

Additional findings:

Impact IImpactII

 

Building a Better Continuity Plan for Hurricane Season

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster and another 25% fail within one year. As September is not only the beginning of hurricane season, but also National Preparedness Month, the Insurance Information Institute and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety have released a new infographic highlighting some of the crucial steps businesses should be taking to fortify against natural disasters.

“Businesses that plan for a disaster have the best chance of surviving, and that starts with identifying the potential risks,” said Loretta Worters, a vice president with the I.I.I. “Large businesses have risk managers, but small business owners have to be their own risk managers and, working with their insurance professional, determine the right type and amount of insurance to be able to recover from a disaster.”

“It is also critical for small business owners to create and/or update their business continuity plan and work with employees so they are prepared for the potential effects of a disaster,” said Gail Moraton, business resiliency manager at IBHS. “Taking time to do this now will save money and time later.”

hurricane preparedness business continuity

Tool Calculates Natural Hazard Risk to Property

Potential for hurricanes and storm surges, the possibilities of wildfires and sinkholes, and an extensive coastline make Florida rank as the state with the highest risk of property damage from natural hazards, according to a new analysis by CoreLogic. Second on the list is Rhode Island, with Michigan coming in with the lowest ranking for risk.

The analysis was derived from the Hazard Risk Score (HRS), a new analytics tool that gathers data on multiple natural hazard risks and combines the data into a single score ranging from 0 to 100. The score indicates risk exposure at the individual property and location level, CoreLogic said. In calculating an overall score, the probability of an event and the frequency of past events are significant contributing factors to determine risk levels associated with individual hazards, along with each hazard’s risk contribution to total loss.

“Florida’s high level of risk is driven by the potential for hurricane winds and storm surge damage along its extensive Atlantic and Gulf coastline, as well as the added potential for sinkholes, flooding and wildfires. Michigan alternatively ranks low for most natural hazard risks, other than flooding,” Howard Botts, Ph.D., vice president and chief scientist for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions, said in a statement.

HRS measures risk concentration and pinpoints the riskiest places in the country. “This insight is critical in conducting comparative risk management nationwide and fully understanding exposure to potential natural hazard damage,” Botts said.

The tool can be used to improve decision-making and enhance business operations, including:

• Business continuity and disaster recovery planning

• Analyzing risks associated with properties

• Measuring savings of mitigation compared to the potential damage of a hazard

• Evaluating natural hazard levels of distribution and supplier networks

• Recognizing if underinsured or uninsured properties could be at risk of default

• Adverse selection avoidance and identification of good risk properties.