How Geospatial Data Visualisation Aids The Understanding Of Flood Risk

Tue May 30 2023

Richard Toomey, senior vertical market manager, commercial Insurance, U.K & Ireland, LexisNexis Risk Solutions

Global temperature increase will exceed 1.5˚C at some point in the near term according to The United Nations Secretary General[i], meanwhile The Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council, Marie Donnelly warns that “Ireland is not sufficiently prepared to adapt to the levels of climate change which we are currently experiencing. Much of our infrastructure was built to cope with the climate of the mid-20th century”[ii].

As Marie Donnelly reiterates that the time to act is now, Ireland is already succumbing to coastal erosion due to sea level rise, triggering resilience planning including reinforcing beaches, building bulkheads and creating breakwaters off-shore.  This will come as small relief to the 1.9 million people who live within 5km of the coast or the 40,000 who reside less than 100 metres from the sea[iii].  Meanwhile as the climate continues to alter, Ireland is expected to see a big reduction in the annual levels of rainfall during spring and summer but a big increase in heavy rainfall in winter and autumn, likely resulting in wetter winters[iv].  Time is critical and insurance providers need to play their part in protecting policyholders against the increasing risks the country is facing using geospatial data intelligence as an ally.

Ultimately, The Office for Public Works (OPW) is responsible for managing flood risk in Ireland.  In fact it is currently enacting its Flood Risk Management Plan which proposes new flood relief schemes for 122 communities throughout the country which will protect 11,500 properties[v]. The flooding and destruction caused by last year’s Storm Eunice[vi], shows how urgently these resilience measures are needed. But so too are the data insights that tell insurance providers exactly which homes and businesses could be at risk, to help price customers more accurately and support them through a flood event. Visualising that data in map form makes it far easier to comprehend and act upon, given our brains are hardwired to respond and react to images.

It’s for this reason that geospatial data visualisation tools such as LexisNexis® Map View have become a key part of insurance provider’s toolkit. Insurance providers can instantly understand the perils risk for a single property, a small area boundary, a whole region/townland or an entire book of business. Not only is this valuable for underwriting, pricing and swiftly calculating accumulations of risk, it is also vital in enabling insurance providers to prepare for and respond to on-going events.

LexisNexis® Map View enables weather event scenarios to be plotted in the safety of a desktop environment. In real-life weather events this same technology allows insurance providers to pinpoint policyholders’ homes threatened by flood water.  This gives insurance providers valuable time to alert customers to move themselves and their possessions out of harm’s way. Insurance providers can also immediately understand their exposures in an event and take decisions based on the data to decline new business in the affected area.

Understanding precisely which policyholders are affected also helps to get on the ground support to the right areas to expedite the claims process and also helps to tackle the problem of fraudsters attempting to claim even though they were unaffected by the event.

Floods and extreme weather events are an inevitable part of life in Ireland, presenting a risk when people, property, the environment or cultural heritage is damaged.  Unfortunately however, environmental risks are increasing and the insurance sector needs to maximise resilience. Geospatial data intelligence and the data visualisation tools that can make that data more actionable will continue to evolve to help the market plan for claims surges and protect Irish customers as far possible from the impacts of climate change.

LexisNexis® Map View not only supports flood risk perils but a range of other hazard data that impacts insurance risk including fire block accumulation, climate change data and windstorm.

Data provided in LexisNexis® Map View can also be delivered at point of quote through APIs.







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