Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane researchers predict an above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor. El Niño tends to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form.
The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team, led by Triple-I non-resident scholar Dr. Phil Klotzbach, predicts 17 named storms during the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
Of those, the researchers expect eight to become hurricanes and four to reach major hurricane strength (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.
An average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
The 2021 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, follows a record-breaking 2020 season. The team expects the 2021 hurricane activity to be about 140 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2020’s hurricane activity was about 170 percent of the average season. The 2020 hurricane season had six landfalling continental US hurricanes, including Category 4 Hurricane Laura, which battered southwestern Louisiana.
So far, the 2021 hurricane season is exhibiting characteristics similar to 1996, 2001, 2008, 2011 and 2017. “All of our analog seasons had above-average Atlantic hurricane activity, with 1996 and 2017 being extremely active seasons,” said Klotzbach.
The report also includes the probability of major hurricanes making landfall:
• 69 percent for the entire U.S. coastline (average for the last century is 52 percent) • 45 percent for the U.S. East Coast including the Florida peninsula (average for the last century is 31 percent) • 44 percent for the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle westward to Brownsville (average for the last century is 30 percent) • 58 percent for the Caribbean (average for the last century is 42 percent)
As always, Dr. Klotzbach caution coastal residents to take proper precautions as “it only takes one storm near you to make it an active season.”
A captive insurance company is a type of risk-management arrangement that essentially works like self-insurance. While “single-parent” captives are financially possible only for large, well-capitalized companies, associations or groups of companies may band together to form a captive to provide insurance coverage. Professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants have formed many captives.
A new paper, written by Dr. Patricia Born, Midyette Eminent Scholar of Insurance at Florida State University and Triple-I Non-Resident Scholar, discusses the considerations for these companies from a financial cost and benefit perspective.
The paper outlines the numerous benefits of group captive membership, including greater control over risk management concerns and lower costs of insurance. It includes information on the types of companies that use member-owned group captives; the various types of captive arrangements; how they are currently used; where they are located; and legal and regulatory compliance concerns. It also offers several case studies.
“While captives can allow companies a means for managing risks that cannot be placed with commercial insurers, the risks that are reasonably retained by companies in captives have some distinctive characteristics,” the paper notes. For example, the frequency and severity of losses for risks transferred to the captive should be well understood by the company. Also, a company should have adequate experience with the risk to fully appreciate the actuarially estimated expected losses associated with the exposure. The expected losses should also not be catastrophic in nature. Since these losses are infrequent, they can be more effectively pooled by an insurer who has more capacity and more opportunities to diversify its risks.
“Group captives have become an attractive risk management option for a growing number and type of companies,” the paper concludes. “The current hardening in the traditional insurance market makes captives even more enticing and suggests the captive industry will see more growth in the form of new captive formations and increasing group captive membership.” A hard market, known in the insurance industry as a seller’s market, describes situations when insurance is expensive and in short supply.
By Marielle Rodriguez, Social Media and Brand Design Coordinator, 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.
March is Women’s History Month, and this month we interviewed Susan Holliday, a Senior Advisor at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank where she focuses on insurtech and insurance for SMEs and women. She is also a non-resident scholar at the Triple-I. Holliday sat down with us to discuss developing trends in insurtech, how technology and innovation can help close the protection gap, and the importance of collaboration in tackling climate risk.
Tell us about your current role at the International Finance Corporation (IFC). How did you fall into a career as an advisor and an investor in insurance?
IFC is the private sector arm of the World Bank. We focus on making investments and advisory work in emerging markets in sectors ranging from infrastructure to banking and insurance and healthcare. I’ve had a 33-year career in the financial services industry, particularly focusing on insurance and more recently fintech. I joined IFC to work on insurance and fintech. I’m currently working within different departments at IFC and at the World Bank and building a board portfolio. I’m also a non-resident scholar for the Triple-I.
A lot of your work is focused on insurance for women and SMEs. What do you hope to achieve in investing in insurance for women?
Before I joined the IFC in 2015, the company completed research in conjunction with Accenture and AXA about the insurance market for women. The study found that the insurance market for women could be USD 1.3 trillion globally by 2030 and half of that would be in emerging markets. The research also indicated that women have a better understanding of risk, are very open to insurance, and can be loyal customers and excellent employees in the industry.
After the She for Shield report was published, IFC started advising insurance companies in emerging markets on how to successfully serve women. IFC already had a program called ‘Banking on Women,’ which provided financing for banks to lend to women and women-led SMEs. Whenever we make investments in emerging markets, we are interested in taking an angle that better supports women.
Can you elaborate on the protection gap between women and men and between people with different financial backgrounds?
If you think about it, the insurance industry has a great history and is hundreds of years old. A lot of products were developed a long time ago when society and family structures were very different from what they’re like now. For example, today there are lots of single women and single parents, and most women work, which was not the case when the products were developed. We also have gig economy workers. The default option has always been to continue to offer products that have been offered for 50-100 years, but they do not necessarily meet the needs of today’s customers, whether they are women or men.
This is the reason why I like technology and innovation. To close the protection gap, we need to protect the things that people care about and that need to be protected. There has been a mismatch between traditional products and the actual risks people are facing.
There’s been a report by the Chartered Insurance Institute called “Insuring Women’s Futures” which looked at different times over a lifetime of one person, and it shows where a woman can be treated differently than a man. For example, having time off for maternity leave, having less pension, and living longer. It pointed out all these things that could accumulate and leave a woman being in a much worse position [than men]. Families are no longer a guy who’s working, a stay-at-home woman, and kids. Insurance needs to catch up to reality, and this not only applies to women but all underserved communities. This will not only be a challenge for the industry but also an opportunity to grow.
As an advisor to insurtech start-ups, what impact do you see these companies making?Are there any recent trends or developments in insurtech and fintech that excite you?
I think insurtech, digital, and innovation are critical. There is no insurance without insurtech. We’re never going to close the protection gap unless we use and utilize new technologies to do it.
One of the trends is bite-size insurance on demand. For example, instead of buying an insurance policy for a year, you would be able to turn it on and off, which is relevant to gig economy workers, and is popular in developing countries. Some people would rather access [insurance] when they need it.
Another trend is using alternative data to close the protection gap and get insurance to more people. If we just rely on the old sources of data, a lot of people get excluded from the market or get priced out. It may have built-in biases, which were not intended, but may disadvantage women or certain racial groups. The combination of alternative data sources and artificial intelligence is exciting.
You’re part of the leadership team for Triple-I’s Resilience Accelerator. Tell us about your work with the initiative and why you chose to join the team.
An area where the protection gap is big in the U.S. is in natural disasters and climate-related risks. We’ve seen so many things happen in recent years, such as Hurricane Harvey, and most recently, the very cold snowstorms in Texas and the wildfires on the U.S. West Coast. I think this is an extremely important area. It’s something that impacts everybody, regardless of gender, income level, or political identity.
I particularly like Accelerator, because I think insurance has a bigger role to play in prevention and mitigation, not just about compensation, and I like the approach of bringing different stakeholders together.
2020 was a historic year for natural catastrophe losses. What is the insurance industry doing to mitigate future losses and to prepare for a world impacted by climate change? What are the industry’s biggest challenges in creating resilience?
First and foremost, making insurance more available and more affordable. For example, there is parametric, index-based insurance, which can be provided at a micro-level and is used in some developing countries.
We need to get involved in longer-term thinking about how we can be more resilient against these risks in the first place. We must think about building towns, cities, and farmland in a way that they will be more resilient against weather losses. It has to do with planning, infrastructure, and it may have to do with changing certain industries.
I would like to see the insurance industry at the table in these discussions with regulators, local and state governments, and with private sectors so that all sides are working together. The industry needs to have a voice and be taken seriously. We need to think about how different parts of society can share the risk of climate-related losses.
By Loretta Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Triple-I
Like many people, Karen Clark’s career was influenced by circumstances and serendipity rather than advanced planning. In graduate school she developed a love of building computer models, leading to her first job in the research department of Commercial Union Assurance.
“One of my first assignments was to figure out if the insurer had too much coastal exposure because they had been growing along the coastline,” said Clark. “I started to research hurricanes and how I could potentially build a model to estimate hurricane losses.”
That research ultimately led Clark to write her seminal paper “A Formal Approach to Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Management,” published in the Casualty Actuarial Society Proceedings, in which she argued for probabilistic models rather than the subjective rules of thumb then used in underwriting.
“Catastrophe modeling was a game-changer because it introduced a whole new way of understanding and managing risk,” Clark explained. “We don’t just look at worse-case scenarios, but we develop a probability distribution of potential outcomes. What are the chances of a $1 billion versus a $10 billion hurricane loss? You need probabilities so you can evaluate how likely you are to have a solvency-impairing event and how much reinsurance you want to purchase and for pricing the product. You also need to know what the costs and benefits are of different mitigation strategies. That’s what was missing prior to the catastrophe models.”
Being Taken Seriously as a Woman in the Insurance Industry
When Clark first started out, catastrophe reinsurance was primarily written out of Lloyd’s of London. “Lloyd’s was 100% male,” she laughed. “I gave my first presentation in the Lloyd’s Library to about 100 male underwriters. Not only was I a woman, but I was an American woman, and I was seven months pregnant,” she said. “Along with that, I was carting this portable computer. Many underwriters had never seen a portable computer, much less used one.
“After my presentation, there was silence in the room, and little interest, but that didn’t dissuade me. I was determined to find those innovators and forward thinkers and I did find a few in Lloyd’s and in the U.S., who helped me to develop AIR’s first product, CATMAP.”
Clark said it is important early on to find those forward thinkers who believe in what you’re doing and are willing to make a commitment. She advised women not to take no for an answer and to be good communicators. “You always have to ask for what you want. The worse that can happen is you get a no.”
Clark hasn’t looked back since. As founder of the first catastrophe modeling company, Applied Insurance Research, later AIR Worldwide, she became an internationally recognized expert in the new field of catastrophe risk modeling, revolutionizing the way insurers, reinsurers and financial institutions manage their catastrophe risk.
Clark declined many offers to sell her company over the years, but eventually decided to sell AIR to Insurance Services Office (ISO). Several years later, she co-founded Karen Clark & Company (KCC) with her business partner, Vivek Basrur, never intending to develop catastrophe models again. “But as my partner likes to say, life is what happens when you have other plans.”
Reinventing an industry
“Through numerous consulting engagements with global (re)insurers we discovered the models were not meeting all the needs of the senior level decisions makers. We started hearing several consistent themes and eventually developed what we called the CEO Wish List”, said Clark.
That CEO Wish List informed the KCC vision for a new generation of catastrophe models—models that are more accurate, fully transparent, and provide decision makers with additional risk metrics and insight into large loss potential. “We didn’t change the fundamental structure of the models”, says Clark, “but rather how the models are delivered to (re)insurers and how they can be leveraged in new ways.”
Clark said that KCC is doing a few things differently than other modelers and one of them is their scientific approach. “Rather than extrapolating from historical data, we have implemented advanced physical modeling techniques for the more frequent events, such as severe convective storms, winter storms, and extratropical cyclones. This enables our models to capture all weather-related claims and not just those defined as catastrophes. Our internal systems automatically ingest over 30 gigabytes of data a day from all the satellites, radar stations and global models so our clients have high resolution hazard footprints every morning for monitoring and managing daily claims activity.
“Interestingly, reinventing the catastrophe modeling industry was just as challenging as inventing it”, says Clark, “because most people thought it was impossible.” “We again had to find those industry leaders and early adopters who believed in our vision and then worked with us to make it a reality.”
Clark said she’s very fortunate she discovered her passion at a young age when she first started her career. I just love what I do, and until I can come up with something else that I could enjoy doing daily as much as I enjoy KCC, I’ll be right here.”
The U.S.’s auto, home, and business insurers have more than met the challenges raised by COVID-19 over the past year, according to Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).
“2020 proved how this industry can lead through disruption. We can adapt. We can innovate. We can keep our promises and pay claims—even during a global pandemic,” Kevelighan said, in remarks today to the Reinsurance Association of America’s (RAA) virtual 2021 Catastrophe Risk Management conference.
The net income after taxes for U.S. auto, home, and business insurers cumulatively dropped to $35 billion in the first nine months of 2020, a 25-plus percent decrease from where the insurers’ net income after taxes stood after the first nine months of 2019, Kevelighan said. The deterioration was attributable in part to the severity of 2020’s hurricanes, wildfires, and civil unrest.
“If you look at net premiums written growth, we were actually at the 10-year average last year,” Kevelighan continued, reporting how auto, home, and business insurers realized three percent net premiums written growth year-over-year when comparing the first nine months of 2020 to the same timeframe in 2019. Net premiums written are premiums written after reinsurance transactions.
“The FAIR campaign was meant to be an aggressive way to inform the discussion,” Kevelighan stated, “Our customers needed financial support and we knew the federal government was the only entity who could provide it.”
In assessing 2021’s key issues, Kevelighan said he thought telematics and social inflation would take on greater import among insurers and their policyholders. “Telematics is one way our industry can drive safety on our roads,” the Triple-I’s CEO said, referring to the devices drivers can place voluntarily in their vehicles to reduce the cost of auto insurance and to encourage safe driving habits. “Social inflation is getting worse. These massive litigation lawsuits are really putting a strain on the cost of liability insurance,” Kevelighan stated.
Following his remarks, Kevelighan participated in a live question and answer session moderated by Frank Nutter, president, RAA. Katrin Zitzelsberger, senior epidemiologist, Munich Re, and Damon Vocke, partner, Duane Morris, joined them.
When disaster strikes the insurance industry is a financial first responder. Millions of dollars are on the way to policyholders to cover claims related to the severe winter weather that pummeled the United States in February. But the industry is also staffed by individuals who care deeply about their communities and contribute above and beyond what their jobs require.
Below are just a few examples of donations companies and organizations have made to help their neighbors in need.
Several insurers including Liberty Mutual and Northwestern Mutual are part of the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program. The Red Cross works with government and community partners to coordinate food and water distribution to where it is most needed.
The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. raised $1.5 million for United Way and hundreds of other nonprofit organizations across the country through an employee giving campaign. The contribution represents the largest donation the company’s charitable foundation and its employees have ever made through the annual giving program.
The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) Southeast division has raised more than $560,000 to support 21 nonprofit beneficiaries who are facing challenging times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent winter storms. The IICF is also raising funds to help feed children and families that are facing hunger because of the pandemic.
New York Life donated $100,000 to Feeding Texas in response to the winter storm to support immediate food shortage needs in the most vulnerable communities in the state. The New York Life Foundation will match donations made by employees and agents up to an additional $100,000 to both Feeding Texas and the New York Life Emergency Assistance Fund, which provides financial assistance to employees and agents impacted by catastrophic events.
Texas Mutual Insurance Company donated $100,000 to six organizations on the frontlines providing Texans with basic needs like food, water and shelter. The Coalition for the Homeless in Houston was one of the recipients.
The USAA Foundation, Inc. has announced a $350,000 commitment to help Texas residents recover from February’s storm.
To commemorate Women’s History Month, Scott Holeman, Triple-I’s Media Relations Director, interviewed Cathy Weatherford, the first woman to serve as Insurance Commissioner of Oklahoma.
Like most insurance and financial service professionals, Cathy Weatherford didn’t pick her career. It picked her. Taking advice from her father who served as a state legislator in Oklahoma, Cathy applied for state government jobs where there were a variety of opportunities with health and retirement benefits. She landed at the Oklahoma Insurance Department.
For 16 years, she climbed the department’s ladder while honing her skills in public policy and insurance regulation. She also learned the art of politics while serving as a top aide on a gubernatorial campaign. Soon after, Weatherford landed the job of Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner, the first woman to serve in that role. “That was a ceiling-smashing moment for me,” said Weatherford. “I suddenly became acutely aware of the torch I was carrying for my daughters and for younger women in my state.”
Many of her direct reports at the department were young women. The terms “mentor” and “sponsor” were not common in state government or even the private sector, but Weatherford says she used her role to help younger women and men enhance their professional growth by sharing her unique perspectives, honest feedback and earnest advice.
“Mentoring is about sharing your experiences, suggestions and knowledge,” says Weatherford. “Hold back on trying to push your personal opinions because mentees need to make their own decisions in order to gain confidence and strength. Be a mentor—not a mother. Stay out of relationship and marital advice. Support them in difficult professional moments and celebrate their professional accomplishments.”
After leaving the Oklahoma Insurance Department, Weatherford worked in private industry before being named CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, where she led efforts to modernize insurance regulation. “We moved regulation into a highly efficient and productive process through technology and innovative software solutions,” said Weatherford. “We developed educational credentials for regulators to further professionalize regulatory careers, and we engaged in and play a major role in the international regulatory arena. Most importantly, we proved that state insurance regulation works and does not need federal intervention.”
Her next stop was to rebrand and rejuvenate the National Association for Variable Annuities/NAVA after the financial crisis. As president and CEO of Insured Retirement Solutions (IRI), she moved the association from Reston, VA to Washington, D.C., expanded the role of the association and made it more consumer-facing. She retired from that job in 2019 after 10 years.
In the last 13 years, Weatherford has mentored six young women. One of them is Molly Meek, a Kansas City, MO-based account executive for an insurance brokerage firm. Meek almost left the industry after her first job wasn’t providing the experience she’d hoped. Weatherford encouraged her to try again before switching career paths. “It’s so amazing having Cathy as a mentor,” says Meek. “Having someone I can call who can help explain large organizations and their politics, as well as helping me focus my efforts, is invaluable. That’s not something college prepares you for.”
Weatherford is the author of “Women and Wealth: Inspiring Stories from Real Women on the Path to Financial Success.”
While the insurance industry acknowledges the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), has it become part of the core values and culture? The short answer: there has been progress, but more action is needed. Triple-I met with Dr. Leroy Nunery II, author of The Journey of African-American Insurance Professionals and Triple-I non-resident scholar, to discuss how the industry has advanced in DEI since his 2018 study.
Nunery describes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as interoperable, noting that each is often defined separately but can’t stand alone. “Diversity is the practice of considering differences from whatever the norm is at a company. Equity is about access to opportunities that people might not have. Inclusion is bringing people together at the same table and the concern that they have for each other,” he explains.
According to S&P Global research, the number of Black professionals in the insurance industry increased to 12.4 percent of the workforce from 9 percent in the last 10 years, with the number of Asians and people in the Other category increasing to 6.2 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. While the numbers are rising, the pace of change is lagging.
One of the primary challenges to DEI within insurance is the barrier to entry. Nunery explains, “Insurance is largely nepotistic and driven by family connection. It’s challenging to succeed without that group connection or network.” He believes that people of color can shift these numbers and take advantage of that momentum. “We can be exclusive at times. We say, ‘We’re all in,’ but we do everything we can so only a small group can get in. We need to do a better job of transferring knowledge,” he says.
Companies are realizing that commitment to DEI is more than hiring more people of color. There are markets to develop, business alliances to form, and investments in training and advocacy. Nunery is working with a client on a six-month job shadowing program that partners people of color with senior executives – granting C-suite exposure and access to meetings that were previously out of reach. “It’s important to coach up talent to perform at a greater level,” Nunery says of these programs. “It’s a tightrope to walk, but I tell people not to worry about failure. Worry about how successful you’re going to be.”
Camaraderie and mentorship can only go so far. A September 2020 survey by Business Insurance showed that 63 percent of respondents believe that the CEO bears the greatest responsibility in making DEI work. Nunery agrees and adds that the CEO not only needs to say that DEI is important but also puts it into action.
“When you ask companies to prove DEI, they come up short,” Nunery says. “Managers are not evaluated for it. There are no key performance indicators. Boards ask about it but don’t make it mandatory. To make DEI successful, let’s be more honest with our exchanges.”
Sean Kevelighan, Triple-I CEO, will be a featured speaker at the Reinsurance Association of America’s 18th annual Cat Risk Management conference as part of a COVID-19 panel. The panel will discuss the economic impact of the pandemic on insurers, pandemic-related litigation, and reinsurance issues.
The online conference takes place March 22-24 and features a powerhouse roster of experts who will share their views on lessons learned from the tumultuous year just passed, explore risk-management issues, and offer insights on how decision makers can navigate 2021.
Conference registration includes three full days of information, plus an on-demand capability that lets attendees preview sessions before the scheduled presentations and review sessions they might have missed or wish to view again.
The conference targets financial-sector professionals–including insurers, reinsurers, and investment banks–responsible for catastrophe risk management; attorneys specializing in reinsurance; academics; federal/state government officials; and regulators. In addition to the exceptional technical program, it’s a great networking opportunity.
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 email@example.com.