Not only is insurance an industry that is based on a general inability to predict what is going to happen, it is a hyper-competitive industry in which the winners are those who can best predict the unknowable…or at least be less wrong than their competition. Insurance underwriting is the actual process of pricing what is unknowable, and is necessarily performed with rigorous processes underpinned with vast amounts of data. However, underwriting is never perfect, and the gap between actual underwriting and perfection is called underwriting leakage.
Flood poses risk to property and productivity on every continent, and most developed countries have flood insurance available to mitigate that risk. However, everywhere you go, the flood insurance market is different.
There are four principle types of flood insurance models around the world, differentiated by who backs the insurance (government or private markets), and whether it’s bundled or separate from other property insurance coverage (e.g., flood and fire insurance are frequently bundled together).
Each style has its own pros and cons, and each exists in its region for a variety of reasons. Here is a quick look at the four types.
The past year was a tough one for US cat losses, especially wildfire and flood. Last week we explored just how bad it was, but also just how much opportunity does exist in the US protection gap. The secret to unlocking that opportunity, without undue overexposure, is crisp underwriting.
Last week Insurance Journal ran a recap of the P/C Joint Industry Forum, held last month in NYC. If you underwrite flood or wildfire, go read it now and then come back here for a bit of commentary. If you are a blogger, chances are you have already read it.
Even in a year that is already infamous for US catastrophes, the Thomas Fire of December in the dry windswept hills north of Los Angeles was a staggering event. Ignited near Thomas Aquinas College southeast of Ojai on Route 150 (thus, the name!), it burned hard and it moved quickly with 50+ mph winds. After the wet spring (floods!), there was ample new fuel for fires, and the dry and breezy conditions drove risk levels to unprecedented heights. Sure enough, an unprecedented fire happened.