How to Close the Flood Insurance Data Gap with Persistent Monitoring

5 min read

How to Close the Flood Insurance Data Gap with Persistent Monitoring

Back in the summer of 2021, extreme rainfall and floods hit large parts of Western Europe, resulting in more than 190 fatalities and extensive property damage across the old continent. 

A few weeks after that, Hurricane Ida reached the coast of the USA as a category 4 storm with dangerous storm surges, damaging winds, and tornadoes. Ida will likely rank as one of the costliest hurricane losses on record, and both events continue a tendency of large-scale, devastating catastrophes that hit densely populated areas in the past few years.

Due to the increased impact of climate change, these events are expected to be more and more common across the globe in 2022 and beyond. So, the question is given: how can insurers and government organizations improve their disaster response timeliness, and shift their value proposition from being a slow and reactive institution to a modern, proactive partner?

Help People When They Are Most in Need

The insurance industry has long demanded access to accurate, actionable insights in the immediate aftermath of flood events, where timeliness is a key factor. Water is a difficult hazard to capture, as houses can be flooded in a matter of minutes, but the floodwater could also be gone in a few hours. 

For policyholders, floods represent a major disruption of their day-to-day routine, which can result in serious property damage and even potential loss of life. Therefore, the standards of the expected assistance and customer service are extremely high.

A few years ago, one of our C-level executives experienced this situation as a policyholder herself. “My personal experience isn’t a fraction of what people go through when they suffer a major catastrophe or traumatic event. But I also lived through large-scale flooding. On that day, I was sitting at home with my family, in Atlanta, Georgia, trying to avoid a tornado and shelter. And all of a sudden, water started bubbling up literally through my floor. My entire world was flooding in, and all we could think of is to get everything to higher ground: the furniture, the carpets, the electronics, everything, while the water was already rushing in.”

Enable Empowerment, Dignity, and Real-Time Customer Support

The next few days following a major flood event are critical for effective disaster response. At the moment of despair, thousands of people are calling the same water removal services, waiting in line to get hold of their insurance company’s customer support, and trying to file an insurance claim. Usually, the whole process takes weeks, and it can be stressful and cumbersome.

Now imagine a world, where insurance companies could use an app to notify their policyholders to get to high ground or unplug their electrics before a potential flood is approaching. Imagine that they could limit the number of touchpoints from claims adjusters, and support advanced payments for customers in a matter of days.

With ICEYE’s near real-time Flood Insights, insurers could proactively step in and enable empowerment, dignity, and real-time customer support - not 30, 60, or 90 days later, but before, during, and immediately after a flood event occurs.

Stay on Top of Growing Customer Expectations with Reliable Flood Hazard Data

Specifically developed for the insurance ecosystem, ICEYE’s Flood Insights can drive efficiencies, improve responsiveness, and ultimately enhance holistic coverage for policyholders. By combining SAR imagery with multiple auxiliary information sources, ICEYE produces flood depth and flood extent analysis, with the first outputs being delivered in 24 hours.

“The faster we can get our data out, the more impactful it is for insurance companies and the public sector. We have built a solid daily process that starts with weather models, flood forecasts, and anything we have at our disposal knowing where it's going to flood. We then collect SAR imagery of that location and so our analysts gather tens of thousands of square kilometers imagery to make sure we cover as much of the flood aerial-wise and then time-wise as well,” explains Nathan Uhlenbrock, our Solutions Architect at ICEYE.

With more than 30 dedicated experts, ICEYE has built a platform that provides reliable data for flood depth, extent, and duration, within hours of a given flood peak, empowering insurers and emergency management organizations to assess losses quickly and carry out disaster response efforts in a more effective and targeted manner. With the words of Nate, “It's a big deal to know if 10,000 households were impacted by a flood. It's another thing to know which 1000 of them were impacted by three meters or more of water, because they need immediate assistance. The flood extent is basically the outline of the flood, while our flood depth raster allows you to zoom in on any house, click on it and see what was the depth.”

To understand our Flood Monitoring process in more detail, watch this 2-minute video with Nate:


Alternatively, you can learn more about ICEYE’s Flood Insights, or take a look at our latest Flood Briefings here.