Preventing a natural catastrophe from becoming a business crisis

Global insurer Sompo Canopius has used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to put up-to-date information about potential natural hazards and risks at the fingertips of all its employees. Consequently, the organisation can now make more incisive underwriting decisions and better understand the impact of major catastrophes to protect business profitability.

Underwriters are now better informed about perils and natural hazards at all global locations

The organisation monitored the risk to insured properties during a significant wildfire incident in Canada

Managers can assess the level of accumulated insurance by location and minimise overexposure to risks

The Challenge

Sompo Canopius is a global insurance business, with operations in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Bermuda, US and Singapore. Every year, it underwrites billions of pounds worth of business with domestic, commercial and reinsurance customers on every continent. Consequently, it needs to be able to collate, analyse and, critically, understand vast amounts of information about potential natural catastrophes at millions of separate locations all around the world.

“Today’s insurers can potentially access huge volumes of data about hazards and risks from numerous organisations, but trying to distil all this Big Data down into something that underwriters can use on a day-to-day basis is quite challenging,” says Rob Porter, Head of Catastrophe Research at Sompo Canopius. “We wanted to create an online app that would make it easy for anyone in the company to view and interpret up-to-date catastrophe data, about anywhere in the world, on demand.”

“ ArcGIS Online is an exceptional tool for bringing maps and spatial data to a wider audience, especially people who have not used technical GIS products before. It is highly intuitive and straight-forward to use

Rob Porter – Head of Catastrophe Research, Sompo Canopius

The Solution

Sompo Canopius worked with Esri UK’s Professional Services team to create its app using Esri’s ArcGIS Online solution, incorporating live disaster feeds. Named CatNav, the app is accessed via the company’s secure intranet, making it available to all of the company’s 600 employees in offices around the world. “ArcGIS Online is an exceptional tool for bringing maps and spatial data to a wider audience, especially people who have not used technical GIS products before,” says Porter. “It is highly intuitive and straight-forward to use.”

Now, underwriters can access CatNav when talking with customers or brokers, enter an address, and immediately see accurate information on localised hazards such as flooding, as well as more wide-ranging risk factors including hurricanes and earthquakes. Employees can also use CatNav to view and better understand the accumulation of insured properties in specific areas or, in the event of a natural disaster, easily see which insured properties are at risk.

Esri UK helped Sompo Canopius to integrate CatNav with back-office systems and databases, using Esri’s ArcGIS Server solution and Python scripting, to facilitate a number of automated workflows. For instance, now, when a new insurance policy is accepted, maps of the underwritten locations are automatically generated by ArcGIS and attached to policy documents, with no time delay or manual intervention.

“ ArcGIS Online supports underwriters, enabling them to make the right decisions about which policies to offer, and at which price, to make the company more profitable over time

Rob Porter – Head of Catastrophe Research, Sompo Canopius

Benefits

CatNav is delivering a range of commercial advantages for Sompo Canopius including:

Well-supported underwriting decisions
Underwriters are now better informed about perils and natural hazards at all global locations and can ensure that potential risks are accounted for, every time. “Good underwriting is at the very foundation of how insurers make money,” says Porter. “ArcGIS Online supports underwriters, enabling them to make the right decisions about which policies to offer, at which price, to make the company more profitable over time. It gives the business greater confidence that underwriters are underwriting policies appropriately.”

Greater understanding of exposure to risk
Using CatNav, senior managers can better monitor the business’ exposure to risk, as catastrophes unfold. For instance, during a significant wildfire incident in Alberta, Canada, the organisation consumed data from NASA on the spread of the fire and used ArcGIS to monitor the risk to insured properties. “With ArcGIS Online, we could make near real-time information on the spread of the wildfires and the proximity of insured locations accessible to all our global employees,” Porter recalls. “There was a lot of media hype about the disaster, but ArcGIS Online enabled us to identify properties at risk and allay management concerns about the likely extent of any claims.”

Sound business management
Sompo Canopius also relies on CatNav to help monitor the level of accumulated insurance in specific regions and form sound business strategies to minimise overexposure to risks. “Global insurance is a highly competitive market,” says Porter. “CatNav helps us to ensure the business is appropriately diversified. The app helps us to make the right commercial decisions to achieve competitive advantage.”

Significant internal productivity gains
ArcGIS saves a significant amount of time for Sompo Canopius, partly because of the automation of key map production workflows and partly because the GIS team no longer has to respond to ad hoc requests for catastrophe maps. Previously, it took two or three hours for a GIS specialist to produce a pdf map showing a particular hazard or risk scenario at a certain location; now staff can see a map of whatever location they want, instantly.

More responsive client service
Staff can respond more quickly to client enquiries, because, in most circumstances, they no longer have to request information on potential risks and wait for it to be supplied. “They often don’t have to refer queries back to risk specialists, saving anything from a few hours to a whole day,” Porter estimates. “This helps us to provide a better quality of customer service.”

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