Skip to content

ICEYE x InsTech London: Spotlight on Near Real-Time Flood Monitoring for Insurance Companies

The need for near real-time hazard data so the insurance industry can more accurately monitor flood risk and other natural perils was the theme for our joint event with InsTech London, held at the Steelyard in London on Tuesday 9 November.

At the start, Matthew Grant, Partner at InsTech London, welcomed Rafal Modrzewski, our ICEYE CEO and co-founder and Lisa Wardlaw, our Global Head of Insurance Solutions on stage. He asked about the journey from developing our sensors and constellation of satellites to the decision to monitor flood events on a global basis.

Right from the beginning, the broad idea had been to bring intelligence to decision makers and to use the sensors to extract and democratize knowledge, explained Rafal. “Regardless of whether it is night or day, rainy or cloudy, we can pierce through clouds and tell you what is going on on the ground,” he continued, explaining the unique benefits of SAR data and why flood as a use case was the right fit.

A dynamic hazard such as flood, which can impact a large geographic area in the space of several days, requires a sizable constellation of satellites, which are maneuvered into an optimal position to capture an event continually as it unfolds. Rafal submitted that it had taken time to learn how to best monitor complex flood events in near real-time, but the learning curve was paying dividends.

Tracking the Floods Caused by Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida, the most devastating US landfalling storm of the 2021 North Atlantic hurricane season, was an opportunity to capture loss data for ICEYE insurance and reinsurance clients and to test the accuracy of its near real-time event footprints.

The category 4 storm, which made landfall in Louisiana on 29 August on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, generated heavy precipitation as it moved inland, causing widespread flooding across the state.

Not only had the initial depth information and numbers of properties impacted proved a “remarkably accurate” capture of the situation on the ground, our persistent monitoring as the storm moved inland offered a glimpse of how such data might be used by the insurance industry moving forward.

Lisa Wardlaw also explained how one town had flooded three days after the initial landfall, with ICEYE able to detect the source of the flood as a levee breach. This continual risk management - even after an event has passed - can detect minute changes in the landscape and infrastructure and open up a “new realm of being able to monitor risk”, she explained.

The satellites are able to capture granular flood depth information down to the individual building level. In dense urban areas, data from sensors and river gauges offered additional verification of what is captured overhead.


Natural Catastrophe Monitoring in the Era of Climate Change

With COP26 fresh in delegates’ minds, Grant asked if the insurance industry was ready for climate change, as hazards such as flood become more frequent and more intense in nature. Rafal noted the nature of flood events had changed considerably in just the two years that ICEYE has been monitoring the peril.

Crucially, there are innovative applications for the insurance industry as it seeks to complement existing indemnity products and address gaps where hazards are currently underinsured. ICEYE data will allow the structuring of more parametric solutions, which can help “fill the protection gap and give people access to immediate payouts during their greatest time of need,” explained Lisa.

The event was also a perfect opportunity to announce a new partnership between ICEYE and McKenzie Intelligence Services (MIS). Through the new collaboration, Lloyd’s practitioners will gain access to ICEYE data “from this point on”, explained Forbes McKenzie, an announcement greeted with a round of applause on stage.

We are thankful to everyone who attended the event and joined us during the on-stage discussions, including:

Forbes McKenzie, CEO, McKenzie Intelligence Services Ltd
Gethin Jones, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Skyline Partners 
Andrew Smith, Chief Operations Officer, Fathom
Rob Porter, Product Director, Vave (Canopius Group)
Alun Jones, Chief Commercial Officer, Addresscloud
Colin Masson, Head of First Party Complex Claims, Beazley
Devin Chawda, CEO and Co-founder, ARMD Limited
Jonathon Hopper, Claims Manager, Atrium Underwriters Ltd

To get a sense of how the evening was spent, you can check out this photo gallery.


New call-to-action

Download our Flood Briefing: 'Flooding from Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, US'

Download PDF