Irma loss comparable to Katrina/Sandy
The scale and complexity of the flood
loss stemming from Hurricane Irma has
the potential to be comparable to that from
Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.
This is according to Robert Muir-Wood, RMS
chief research officer, and Matthew Eagle, head
of international analytics at Guy Carpenter, who
shared their latest perspectives on hurricanes Irma
and Harvey—as well as how growth in computer
processing is moving flood modelling into the high
definition (HD) era—at a briefing on Monday
September 11 at the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous.
“In the future, we will consider Irma
a significant flood event. It may well be
comparable to events such as Katrina or Sandy
where the majority of the loss was caused by
flood. We are not saying that yet, but that is the
potential,” said Muir-Wood.
At the time of the press conference, Irma had
moved along the peninsula of Florida and had
weakened, becoming a tropical storm. It was
continuing to run out of energy, as Muir-Wood
pointed out. Heading out of Florida, it would
increasingly become a rainfall event as it went
Muir-Wood said that the latest technology
allows insurers to track such events almost in
real time. “If you are an RMS client, you’ve
got all these products that can update you timestep
by time-step as this storm has expanded
and travelled further north up the Florida
Looking at the modelling of the storm’s path
over Florida, RMS indicated a 10 percent chance
of insured wind losses exceeding $60 billion.
Muir-Wood suggested a significant part of
the economic loss will come from flood, and
most of that is going to be storm surge-driven.
He said that models are improving all the
time and that the next generation of flood
models will be higher definition.
“HD means we are sampling the loss
at an individual property level in order to
comprehend the totality of the impact at
multiple locations in a portfolio,” he explained.
The HD flood models take many factors into
consideration, such as the elevation of a property.
“A small elevation in the property can make
a huge difference in the risk cost,” said Muir-
Wood. RMS is releasing its US inland flood
HD model in early 2018. n
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