Latest Weather Technology Products Help Forecast Damage Before it Occurs

June 11, 2014

New weather technology products promise to forecast future weather events weeks in advance while predicting tornado, hail and storm surge damage threats, according to Ben Zimmerman, director of innovation & strategy at WSI, a technology subsidiary of the Weather Channel.

Zimmerman sat down with Claims Journal recently to explain that new weather data products can assess risk at a parcel level, a benefit to insurers when underwriting weather-related perils and for staffing after a catastrophe loss.

“What we’re able to do is put the intelligence of a meteorologist inside of the enterprise and notify internal stakeholders when specific business rules have been triggered,” Zimmerman said.

Their products can monitor several different weather perils against a carrier’s book of business. An automated notification can be triggered to a claims vice president or catastrophe response department in order to align resources and call centers. He said the alerts are more refined beyond what the National Weather Service can provide.

Responding to a storm within 24 hours and letting policyholders know what the plan is has huge implications on customer satisfaction,” Zimmerman said.

To help mitigate risk, WSI offers a hail alert system. The system allows insurers to push impending weather risk alerts to policyholders. An algorithm can identify where a hail storm might occur and pinpoint notifications can be sent to policyholders before damage can occur.

Another WSI product, known as the Tornado Debris Signature, can detect particles inside a storm system to assist in predicting when a tornado may touch down.

“We can actually see that debris in the sky and now that we can pinpoint that with a geographic information system we can identify if a tornado is actually within close proximity of a policyholder,” said Zimmerman.

Another product can predict storm surges so that insurers can identify exactly where standing water is expected, allowing policyholders time to move vehicles and other property out of its way, he said.

Tropical weather can be forecasted up to 15 days in advance using a WSI neural network which examines and analyzes hurricane spaghetti models. As a result, insurers can begin analyzing the risk associated with its book of business weeks in advance of a potential hurricane.

He said the goal is to mitigate damage before it happens and offer rapid response when damage related to a weather event is unavoidable.

“Ultimately, we’re helping expedite post-cat communication and helping carriers align resources to respond to events much faster,” Zimmerman added.

Watch the video interviews with Ben Zimmerman:

How New Weather Technology Can Help Mitigate Risk

Using Data to Pinpoint Weather Risk

Weather Technology Trends and Their Impact on Insurance

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