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Impact Forecasting cites importance of storm surge modeling on the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy


CHICAGO – Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe model development center of excellence at Aon Benfield, is helping insurers and reinsurers prepare for current and future U.S. hurricane seasons with its innovative storm surge model. Ahead of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s U.S. landfall on October 29, 2012, the model has been updated with the latest data from Sandy that enables insurers and reinsurers to calculate loss estimates and gauge the financial impact of a storm surge reoccurrence. Aon Benfield is the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon plc (NYSE:AON).

Hurricane Sandy, the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, had an overall insurance impact of roughly USD30 billion to both private insurers and the U.S. government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Storm surge and coastal flooding were the primary causes of damage from Sandy, with the most significant impacts sustained in New York City and the state of New Jersey.

Siamak Daneshvaran, Head of Research and Development at Impact Forecasting, said: “Sandy showed that storm surge losses can be the dominating cause of loss, as opposed to wind, during a large hurricane event. In the last several years we have calibrated our implemented version of SLOSH - along with our proprietary wind-field model - while utilizing data using tide gauges. Our validation on both a hazard and loss level shows that SLOSH is very efficient for a stochastic model and is also reasonably accurate for storm surge risk analysis.”

Impact Forecasting has incorporated the latest recorded data from Sandy given its enormous size – spanning more than 1,000 miles at its peak - and unique track to build upon its existing storm surge model. The key features of the model include:

SLOSH (Sea, Lake and Overland Surge from Hurricanes) – the U.S. National Hurricane Center’s official storm surge inundation program. This considers the entire lifecycle of a tropical system before and during landfall to allow better modeling of surge behavior for historical hurricane events, such as hurricanes Katrina, Ike and Rita.
Storm surge loss estimates for 26,000 wind events from Impact Forecasting’s U.S. hurricane model, considering different central pressures, radius of maximum winds, location, direction and speed.
The vulnerability model from the United States Army Corps of Engineers that considers a building’s construction and maps water height to a damage ratio.

Steve Jakubowski, president of Impact Forecasting, said: “Soon after Hurricane Katrina, Impact Forecasting began work to implement SLOSH technology into our storm surge model. The model’s performance with Hurricane Ike in 2008, and again with Hurricane Sandy in 2012, proved to be the most accurate and reliable in the modeling industry. It is now more important than ever to respond to these large events by researching, developing and implementing flood catastrophe models that can better analyze the hazard of hurricane coastal and inland riverine flooding. We have also been applying damage functions specifically for flood inundation, which allow insurers and reinsurers to better understand their flood risk.”

PICTURE AVAILABLE: Storm surge analysis of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York utilizing Impact Forecasting’s implemented version of SLOSH (Source: Impact Forecasting)

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