New insurance advisory board seeks technological solutions to disaster resilience

The insurance industry continues to be a major stakeholder in mitigating the effects of natural disasters on communities. As such, a group of U.S. insurers, reinsurers, intermediaries, and model providers are creating an advisory board called Helix.

Facilitated by The Institutes, Helix seeks to integrate new approaches to automated claims analysis into an overarching framework for the application of new and emerging technologies in natural disaster resilience, according to a Risk & Insurance article.

“We are excited to help coordinate this effort focused on mitigating the adverse effects of natural disasters,” says Peter Miller, President and CEO of The Institutes. He described Helix as an opportunity “to serve as a neutral third party in work on this important issue that ultimately benefits the general public.”

Initially building on work to implement open common data standards for catastrophe risk analytics, the Helix vision is grounded on four pillars to support the industry’s increasingly wide-ranging and growing capabilities:

  • Climate and resilience: Pursuing hazard and resilience research and advocating for innovation in insurance products and economic responsiveness;
  • Data standards, data content/interpretation/quality, and industry-level data resources;
  • Technology: Transparency in models and analytics, Insurtech innovations, and technology solutions;
  • Operations: Common industry tools, improved communication/exchange across the value chain, and support/education for the industry

Helix builds on the work of The Institutes’ Catastrophe Modeling Operating Standards (CMOS) initiative. The CMOS team completed a survey project in September 2020 to establish and implement an open common exposure data standard. This project also provided a set of recommendations for the community to advance the work.

“Based on the interest in and success of the CMOS, it is clear there is a desire for an industry-wide, cooperative effort focused on resilience from natural catastrophes,” says Sean Ringsted, Chief Risk Officer, Chubb. “We’ve received strong interest in creation of Helix and look forward to welcoming the participation of additional organizations.”

The Institutes is in the process of engaging founding members and building out the appropriate governance structure. As those are put in place, Helix members will determine initial priorities in support of the four pillars and leveraging the work performed under the CMOS initiative. Companies in search of additional information, or that have interest in contributing expertise to the effort can contact The Institutes at helix@theinstitutes.org.

Cross-posted from the Triple-I Resilience Accelerator

Study Quantifies Future Climate Change Impact
on Flood Losses

A new study from the nonprofit First Street Foundation projects the impact climate change may have on U.S. flood losses.

The report – The Cost of Climate: America’s Growing Flood Risk –finds that, when adjusting for the long-term impact of a changing climate, nearly 4.3 million homes have “substantial” flood risk that would result in financial loss.

“If all of these homes were to insure against flood risk through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP),” the report continues, “the rates would need to increase 4.5 times to cover the estimated risk in 2021, and 7.2 times to cover the growing risk by 2051.”

Last year, the foundation released a report indicating that nearly 6 million U.S. properties could be at greater risk of flooding than currently indicated by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps.

The new report is particularly resonant as FEMA prepares to implement Risk Rating 2.0, an initiative to make flood insurance pricing more representative of each policyholder’s exposure and help customers better understand their risks and the importance of having flood coverage. It plans to accomplish this by using industry best practices and technology to deliver rates that “are fair, make sense, are easier to understand, and better reflect a property’s unique flood risk.

Implementation of Risk Rating 2.0 is scheduled to begin in October 2021.

Since homeowners who have federally backed mortgages and reside in FEMA-designated Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) are required to buy flood insurance, the First Street data serve as an example of an early indicator of who could be most affected by risk-based rate changes in the near term and as the impacts of climate change evolve.

Potential cost consequences of expanded coverage under NFIP – or, worse, of not addressing the existing flood-protection gap – underscore the importance of a multi-pronged approach to mitigation and resilience that includes improved attention to how, where, and whether to build or rebuild and expanded availability and affordability of insurance.  

Spotlight on Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais

By Scott Holeman, Media Relations Director, Triple-I

For Black History Month, Triple-I is putting the spotlight on Black entrepreneurs and innovative leaders in insurance.  Connecticut’s first Black Insurance Commissioner, Andrew Mais, is an undisputed insurance leader and mentor as the video above makes clear.

“Connecticut is the insurance capital of the known universe,” says Mais. The state ranks number one for insurance employment and payroll and has the highest concentration of actuaries in the U.S.

Mais wants young people to understand the tremendous opportunities that the insurance industry offers and to consider it as a place to start a career.

Why Do Disasters
Keep “Surprising” Us?
A Resilience Culture Would Aid Preparation

Texas in recent days has become the latest poster child for government failure to prepare for catastrophe.

A Washington Post analysis places last week’s “rolling disaster” – with more than 14 million people in 160 counties experiencing power loss and water-service disruptions due to severe winter weather – alongside the U.S. federal government’s failure to anticipate and prepare for a global pandemic.

“Other such episodes of government caught by surprise are etched in people’s memory,” the article says, citing Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 terrorist attacks as precedents. “It is rarely the case that these disasters strike without warning…. As many government officials have said, there is little incentive and almost no political reward for investing money to head off a crisis.”

Blame is being apportioned for Texas’s failure to mitigate what now has to be recognized as an inevitable confluence of extreme weather conditions with infrastructure vulnerability. It certainly seems as if investment in a handful of cold-proofing measures for the state’s independent, lightly regulated energy system might have prevented much of the suffering.

But what about other states suffering from service disruptions and their toll in human pain? And what about the next “unforeseen” catastrophe?

Instead of pointing fingers for actions not taken, it might be more productive to focus on developing a national and global culture of resilience; communicating the objective value of understanding, anticipating, and mitigating the impact of natural and man-made risks; and taking steps in advance to promote resilience in the aftermath of events that can’t be avoided. 

This is what Triple-I, its members, and partners have been doing. Our Resilience Accelerator curates and shares data and insights from across the risk-management world with a focus on promoting resilience best practices.  Our Joint Industry Forum annually brings together insurance and risk-management leaders and subject-matter experts to explain and update anyone with an interest in risk on the latest trends, developments, and solutions. We produce webinars, hold educational town halls, and regularly engage with the news media to help inform their coverage.

We also play an active role in helping to close the oft-mentioned “skills gap” in the insurance industry.

“The risks we all face—whether natural or man-made—are top of mind for younger generations,” Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan said recently. “We’re beginning to see these future leaders turn to insurance. They are beginning to understand that our 350 years of history, of managing risks of all kinds, is truly a catalyst for solutions. These solutions will result in a more resilient and protected world.”

From Sharecropper to Chairman of the Board: Spotlight on Roosevelt Giles, Chairman, Atlanta Life Financial Group

By Kris Maccini, Social Media Director, Triple-I

For Black History Month, Triple-I is putting the spotlight on Black entrepreneurs and innovative leaders in insurance. Innovation and leadership are two words that come to mind when you meet Roosevelt Giles, chairman, Atlanta Life Financial Group, as much as his humble beginnings speaks to his resilience and fortitude.

Roosevelt Giles

Giles is the son of Bo and Lake Giles, two sharecroppers who lived in servitude to a plantation owner in South Carolina until the 1960s. He describes life during these times as “legalized slavery” and says that he picked cotton throughout much of his early childhood. “I only went to school when it rained,” he says. “If it was sunny, I was in the fields.”

Giles says that his family left sharecropping when his older sister paid off their $11K debt [to the plantation owner] and bought the family a home. This freedom allowed Giles to pursue higher education and led him into business as a tech founder and investor. In fact, it was Giles’ technology background that brought him into insurance when he was asked to transform the over 100-year-old company into the digital era.

Atlanta Life has proven to be an attractive opportunity for Giles. The company was founded by Alonzo Franklin Herndon, a former slave with only three-months of formal education. Herndon was emancipated in the late 1800s and went from selling goods on the side of the road to real estate and eventually insurance. He made many investments in infrastructure – housing and education – over the years, believing that Atlanta Life was successful only when the community was successful. In 1950, Herndon and his son Norris created the Herndon Foundation and named the people within the community as shareholders. The company has been credited with funding the Civil Rights Movement and became the primary source of life insurance policies for Black people during that era, most notably insuring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Atlanta Life and the Herndons were recognized and honored with the Nobel Laureate Foundation in 2018.

Giles feels a kinship with Herndon and his desire to provide comfort and dignity to the Black community. “When I was growing up, we’d sell fish fries on Friday or Saturday nights to make enough money to bury someone. Alonzo went into insurance because he wanted to take care of the people most at risk,” Giles says.

According to Giles, Atlanta Life has been invested in “stakeholder capitalism” since the onset. He credits the company with being one of the first to support women on the Board and in the C-suite as far back as the 1920s.

Recently, Giles has made another move towards improving racial equity by creating the Herndon Directors Institute (HDI), a 6-month program that trains underrepresented individuals – women and people of color – to be “board-ready”. The program launched earlier this month with fellows receiving mentorship from an impressive list of global corporate leaders.

“Capitalism is making it happen. Capitalism started this problem, and capitalism needs to fix this problem,” Giles says.

He just may be right. Several top companies have implemented commitments to racial equity, including NASDAQ who requires board diversity on any listed company and Goldman Sachs, who won’t take a company public without it.

While programs like HDI will be a huge step in ending generational poverty, Giles recognizes that his industry still has a long way to go. “The insurance industry needs to be more inclusive. We need to build products that address the wealth deficits in communities of color. The way to end generational poverty and build wealth is through financial literacy.”

“As the only Black Insurance carrier in the U.S., Atlanta Life is positioned to do just that. The brand is trusted in Black and underserved communities, and there is no other company, owned by a foundation, that is positioned to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the Black and people of color communities on an annual basis,” Giles says. “So, when companies partner with Atlanta Life, we can eliminate generational poverty.”

Spotlight on Kevin Henderson, Founder and CEO of Indenseo

By Marielle Rodriguez, Social Media and Brand Design Coordinator, Triple-I

Kevin Henderson

For Black History Month, Triple-I is putting the spotlight on Black entrepreneurs and innovative leaders in insurance. We sat down with Kevin Henderson, Founder and CEO of Indenseo, an analytics software company based in Palo Alto, CA to talk about his background in insurtech and how telematics is shaping the commercial auto insurance space.

Originally from West Medford, Massachusetts, Henderson moved to the Bay Area in California during the Web 1.0 internet boom in the late-1990’s, where he led the global data business for telematics company @Road [later acquired by Trimble] and partnered with commercial auto carriers on their telematics programs. Henderson’s extensive experience in insurance telematics led him to create Indenseo in 2013.

Data has an enormous potential for insurance, according to Henderson. We are now able to know in real-time what’s happening with the vehicle and how it’s being driven. Combining telematics data with contextual data like the road conditions, the limit is your imagination.

Yet, obtaining funding for Indenseo as a Black business owner provided initial hurdles for Henderson. Citing a Harvard Business article on diversity in innovation, he says there’s a positive correlation between the [racial] makeup of partners and those who get funded.” However, his difficulties with obtaining VC funding also led him to be more strategic in his fundraising approach. “It made [us] use the capital we did raise more efficiently,” he says.

While funding was an initial battle, Henderson shares the importance of having a vision and people around you that you trust.

“You need to have people around you that know the ecosystem, and people who will be honest with you. It’s a numbers game and you need to be creative. Learn how to target investors with an interest in the markets you’re trying to get into,” he says.

While telematics is synonymous with commercial fleets, use in personal lines insurance remains low. COVID-19 has revealed telematics’ potential in personal lines. “People are more open with sharing their data,” Henderson says. “The shift in driver behavior caused by the pandemic has revealed that people want to be priced based on how much they use their vehicles as opposed to a standard premium that doesn’t account for vehicle use.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought its own set of challenges for Indenseo, including a slowdown in developing international business, but Henderson believes those opportunities will help expand his business in other countries. “Not everything can be done on Zoom. I will be back on airplanes when international travel and in-person meetings are practical again.”

As on the future of telematics in insurance, Henderson believes that commercial auto will evolve very differently than personal lines.

“The risks are different, and the technology is different. The risk you care about for an 18-wheel truck or a service van will be much different than the risk for a four-wheel sedan,” he says.

With the rise of new specialty markets and new companies, distribution models will change, and new products will emerge. All this makes the future of telematics and commercial auto insurance quite unpredictable and exciting.

———————————————————————————————————–

Indenseo will be hosting a free webinar with Jeffrey Williams of Forrester on February 25th, 1PM ET as part of the “Connected Insurance” series on how IoT will transform insurance. During the webinar, they will talk about trends, technologies, and use cases.

You can learn more about the webinar and register here.

To learn more about Indenseo, visit Indenseo.com. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinGHenderson.  

How to survive severe cold weather

During the deep freeze across multiple states this week, some U.S. electric companies are being forced to pull the plug on consumers in the form of “rolling blackouts” to conserve energy, Insurance Information Institute’s (Triple-I) Scott Holeman reports in the video above.

The severe cold has propelled The Homeowner’s Severe Cold Weather Survival Guide to the “most read” article position at the Triple-I’s website.

Much of North America experiences periods of severely cold weather and is susceptible to snow and ice storms—extreme conditions that can inflict considerable damage on homes and create liability risks. Standard homeowners policies will cover most disasters that result from a freeze—but when the weather outside is frightful, it’s better to minimize the potential risks.

The Survival Guide lists a few steps that can be taken inside and outside a home to reduce risks of property damage, such as:

INSIDE THE HOUSE

Check the location for the main water shutoff in your home. And refresh your memory on—or learn—how the shutoff works to prevent your home’s pipes from bursting.

Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. In severely frigid temperatures, keeping water moving within the pipes will help prevent freezing.

Check to see that fireplaces, wood stoves, and electric heaters are working properly. Make sure no combustible items are near a home’s heat sources. This week’s widespread power outages have contributed to Kerosene Heater Safety becoming the second-most popular article at the Triple-I’s website.

OUTSIDE THE HOUSE

Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts. Ice dams occur when water is unable to drain through the gutters and instead seeps into the house. Clear gutters of leaves and debris to allow runoff from melting snow and ice to flow freely at the base of the gutter, known as the downspout.

Keep your garage doors closed. This will prevent weather damage to whatever is stored in the garage. Plus, if your garage is attached to your house, the home entrance door from the garage is probably not as well-insulated as an exterior door so this will keep more heat in.

Double-check for dead, damaged, or dangerous tree branches and have them removed. Even if they looked sound earlier in the year, trees can be affected by ice, snow, or wind. When stressed, branches can fall and damage your house or car, or injure someone on or near your property.

The Triple-I has additional winter weather resources:

Snowstorm-Caused Damage Covered Under Auto and Home Policies
Winter Storms
How to file A Homeowner’s Claim
Minimizing winter weather risks
If the power goes out, can you be reimbursed for spoiled food?

Community Catastrophe Insurance: Four Models to Boost Resilience

Many households and small businesses don’t have sufficient savings to repair and rebuild after a natural disaster. Insurance is a vital source of recovery funds, but many are uninsured or insufficiently insured. This insurance gap doesn’t just reduce their resilience; its impact can slow the recovery of entire communities.

Community-based catastrophe insurance (CBCI) – arranged by a local government, quasigovernmental body, or a community group to cover individual properties in the community – may help close the coverage gap. A recent Marsh & McLennan report looks at such arrangements and how they can promote community resilience.

In addition to improving financial recovery for communities, CBCI can provide more affordable disaster insurance coverage and could be linked directly to financing for community-level hazard mitigation. It offers describes delivery models so officials and risk managers can explore and implement CBCI as part of an integrated risk management strategy.

Four broad institutional structures for CBCI illustrate the different roles and responsibilities of the community and other partners:

• A facilitator model

• A group policy model

• An aggregator model

• Purchase through a community captive.

In these frameworks, the community’s role and responsibility increase from lowest to highest. In the first, the community is more of a facilitator and a negotiator. In the second, it takes on a role in distribution, choosing insurance options and collecting premiums. In the third, the community plays a dual role: as the insured on a contract with a reinsurer and as the disburser of claims funds.

The fourth model harnesses an existing structure — an insurance captive — that enables the community to provide disaster policies.

“In all cases, the community could offer the coverage for a property owner to voluntarily decide to purchase, or there may be a few instances where a community would compel residents to purchase coverage,” the Marsh report says. “When coverage is voluntary, however, a community would likely need to offer purchase incentives to achieve goals of widespread take-up of the coverage.”

The report describes the four models in detail and provides a five-part roadmap for implementation.

Insurers make Fortune’s most admired companies list

A number of insurance companies are among Fortune magazine’s 2021 ranking of the world’s most admired companies.

Berkshire Hathaway, at Number 6, tops the property/casualty firms listed, followed by USAA, Allstate, Chubb, Swiss Re, Travelers, and Zurich, respectively.

MetLife tops the life insurance companies included, followed by New York Life Insurance, Massachusetts Mutual Life, Northwestern Mutual, and Prudential Financial.

The survey asked respondents to rank companies using criteria including: products, quality of management, financial soundness, ability to attract talent, and social responsibility.

The rankings came out just in time for Insurance Careers Month. To find out more about why working in insurance can be such an attractive career choice, check out the stories told by people working in a variety of fields who sat down for interviews for our Insurance Careers Corner series.

Insurance Careers Corner: Q&A with Suzanne Meraz, External Affairs Executive, CSAA Insurance Group

By Kris Maccini, Social Media Director, Triple-I

Triple-I’s “Insurance Careers Corner” series was created to highlight trailblazers in  insurance and to spread awareness of the career opportunities within the industry.

February is Insurance Careers Month, and this month we interviewed Suzanne Meraz, an external affairs executive at CSAA Insurance Group. Suzanne discusses why she chose a career in insurance, the impacts of the pandemic, and the importance of racial equity in the industry.

Suzanne Meraz

Tell me about your current role at CSAA.

As external affairs executive for a AAA insurer, I’m fortunate to work with a talented team that manages PR, social media, thought leadership, executive visibility, reputation management, and relationships with industry associations (like Triple-I, The Institutes). Our team works to promote CSAA Insurance Group and its associated companies, such as Mobilitas, our commercial insurance company, and Avanta Ventures, our venture capital arm.

You’ve worked in PR and Corporate Communications for many years. What led you into insurance and to make a career in the industry?

I’ve been fortunate to have worked in PR my whole career, and in insurance for about 15 years. Hewitt Associates, a consulting firm later acquired by Aon, is where I started working with insurance. I was responsible for promoting the healthcare practice, helping companies with their healthcare benefit programs.

Working in insurance has provided me the opportunity to promote and learn about innovative products and services, such as green and entertainment insurance, as well as multiple lines, including P&C, healthcare and medical malpractice. I’ve truly enjoyed these experiences and working with many talented and smart people, but I am also proud to be part of this noble profession. As society’s financial first responders, we’re making and delivering on a promise to people to be there for people in their time of need. It feels good to be working in an industry that is doing something positive for the economy, for people, and for communities.

2020 was a rough year for the insurance industry. Can you talk about some of the challenges that you’ve faced?

2020 was challenging on many levels, but I’m very proud of what we’ve done at our company and overall as an industry. At CSAA, we quickly transitioned employees to work from home while continuing to serve our customers well. Our industry wasn’t known for having a work-from-home culture, and we all surprised ourselves in a good way.

The pandemic also spurred a lot of innovation which allowed us to think about ways to do things differently. For example, CSAA created efficiencies that allowed us to introduce a touchless claims system, which enabled customers to share pictures and videos of auto damage claims versus handling in person. We have received a lot of positive feedback for this enhancement, since it saves a lot of time and makes the entire process much more convenient for customers.

As an industry, insurance has assisted customers and communities throughout the pandemic with donations and community service. The industry also took a stand on racial equity issues. There is so much more to do, but it’s important that we start to use our voice as an industry to support important issues that we are facing. Our industry needs to become more diverse and better reflect the communities that we’re serving.

Let’s talk about Diversity & Inclusion. It is the topic that’s front of mind in the industry, particularly lack of representation for women and people of color. What challenges have you faced and overcome during your career?  What is CSAA’s commitment to D&I?

As a mixed race female (half Japanese and half Polish), I feel that I bring a unique perspective to the table. While the communications field has strong female representation overall, that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve or don’t face other challenges. Women in leadership positions and people-of-color still remain very under-represented.

During my career, I have encountered sexism and discrimination. It’s a challenge many of us face, but I’ve been fortunate enough to not allow it to derail my goals and aspirations. To this day, I am often asked “What are you?” in terms of my ethnicity. In time, I’ve learned that it’s not my problem that people can’t put me in a box or easily categorize me.

The insurance industry has traditionally been tight-lipped on many social issues, but one of my proudest moments was when our CEO, Tom Troy, publicly supported Black Lives Matter. Coming from a mixed family, it meant so much for my company to take that stand on this important issue and to say those words. I’m grateful to be a part of a company that cares about our employees, customers and communities, and isn’t afraid to speak out on injustice.

You’ve just been honored as part of the 2021 APCIA Class of Emerging Leaders for your work in 2020 and helping to navigate CSAA with challenges through the pandemic as well as promoting diversity and equity. What are your goals for 2021 and beyond?

It was such an honor to be recognized along with my other CSAA colleagues who are so deserving: Briana Clifford, Beti Cung, Jachyn Davis, Christian Myers, and Maureen Parish. We need more events that bring the insurance industry together, whether it’s by function or discipline, to keep the industry engaged and share the stories of how we’re making a difference.

I’m proud of CSAA’s inclusion and belonging work. Over the past year, we’ve explored diversity training around unconscious bias and micro-aggressions. We also have a CEO that is truly supportive in addressing racial inequity and providing the space, budget, and support to launch programs that address these issues. Just acknowledging that these are serious and important issues is a big deal, yet we’re taking the necessary steps that will help us move forward and take real action. We’re on a journey with this, and we are not perfect, but we are committed to increasing the diversity of our workforce and advocating for representation at every level of our organization.

There’s so much work to be done in this area that it sometimes can feel overwhelming, but our team is committed to advocating for real change that can make a difference for our company and the communities we serve. For us, this is not a bandwagon moment and ‘Black Lives Matter’ wasn’t just for 2020. Inclusion and belonging is now and forever, and we will continue to move forward with action and purpose. We are working on a CSR report that will document transparency about where we are, what we are doing, where we have work to do and where we are headed. This is an exciting, important and pivotal time for the insurance industry and the world, and I am grateful for the role we can play in influencing a positive and long overdue outcome.