If everyone uses the same risk model, is it still useful?

Posted by Ivan Maddox on Apr 4, 2018 8:03:01 AM

One of the recurrent themes of this blog is to explore the usefulness and limitations of risk models. This post explores the implications of the widespread — in some cases, universal — use of these models. Is there a limit to a model’s usefulness if everyone is using it? How can a model’s limitations be overcome?

When a peril is well modeled, and that model is comprehensively applied throughout a market by both the carriers and re-insurers, it becomes very difficult to differentiate coverage because everyone has priced the risk similarly. The implications of this blanket usage begin to manifest when nothing happens for a while; i.e., when no significant catastrophe fulfills the model’s predictions. The capacity to cover the expected loss is collected by everyone, and with no claims to release the capital, the market gets soft. Competition becomes tighter, and it becomes necessary to look for new markets, or entirely new activities, to maintain a constant level of premium.

This recent article from Intelligent Insurer explores this phenomenon in the current reinsurance market. The big boys are moving to specialty reinsurance and even primary insurance amid a very soft market. Naïve capital accumulates and the only outlet is a catastrophe that is unexpected — i.e., unmodeled – to release the excess capacity through claims that exceed predictions.

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Topics: Insurance Underwriting, Risk Management, Other Risk Models

A Cat Modeler's Guide to the Protection Gap

Posted by Ivan Maddox on Feb 16, 2016 10:29:57 AM

Last week on AMBest TV there was an interview with Hemant Shah, the articulate co-founder and CEO of cat-model makers RMS. It was a standard set of questions one would ask a cat modeler, but there was one response that’s worth a deeper look. 

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Topics: Floods, Insurance Underwriting, Natural Catastrophe, Other Risk Models, Earthquake

Do property insurers have wildfire covered?

Posted by Ivan Maddox on Jun 30, 2015 3:39:14 PM

Summer is here, and in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada, it really feels like it. Record highs are being set all over the region, the Calgary Zoo is closed so the animals can be cooled, and the wildfires are burning.

The most newsworthy wildfire so far is the Sleepy Hollow wildfire in Wenatchee, WA. It's burning homes and industrial buildings, and as of today is only 10% contained. It will get bigger before it gets smaller.

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Topics: Natural Hazard Risk, Insurance Underwriting, Wildfire, Other Risk Models

The Curious Case of Hail Analytics

Posted by Ivan Maddox on Jun 11, 2015 1:22:47 PM

I live in Denver, therefore hail is the natural peril that is most familiar to me. The Front Range urban area (extending from Colorado Springs in the south, through Denver and Boulder, up to Fort Collins in the North) is known in some insurance circles as “Hail Alley.” But just because hail is frequent and familiar here doesn’t mean it’s predictable — on the contrary, it’s always full of surprises!

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Topics: Natural Hazard Risk, Risk Management, Other Risk Models, Hail

Investigating Tsunami Risk

Posted by Ivan Maddox on Jun 2, 2015 2:32:37 PM

This final blog post introducing earthquake risk and analytics explores a common accompaniment to earthquake: tsunami. This is an interesting peril because it's actually a combination of two perils — earthquake and flood. Tsunami is the surging flood from the ocean caused by sudden seabed vertical displacement (or, rarely, it can be caused by a huge landslide). The earthquake may or may not cause damage on a nearby coast, but the huge volume of water hitting coastal areas at high velocity causes intense damage — frequently complete destruction.

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Topics: Natural Hazard Risk, Natural Catastrophe, Other Risk Models, Earthquake, Hurricane

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