Claims Conference to Feature Northeast Hurricane Expert

February 11, 2013

CUNY’s Dr. Nicholas Coch looks at the art and science of anticipating the next Sandy.

Superstorm Sandy may be history, but coping with its aftermath is an ongoing challenge. And Sandy won’t be the last dramatic, cataclysmic event delivered to the U.S., courtesy of Mother Nature and a churning, swirling sea.

The inevitability of future hurricane activity and how to prepare for it will be addressed in two sessions at the PLRB/LIRB 2013 Claims Conference, March 17 – 20, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Mass.

“Damage Potential of a Major Hurricane Landfall in the Northeast U.S.” and “Hurricane Damage Potential in U.S. Urban Coastal Centers” will both be presented by Dr. Nicholas K. Coch, a professor of geology in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Queens College, part of the City University of New York. The first class will begin at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 19, and the second class will begin at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19.

Damage Potential of a Major Hurricane Landfall in the Northeast U.S.

A look at why hurricanes that made landfall in the Northeast region of the U.S., have resulted in more damage than storms that have made landfall in the Southeast or Gulf regions, will be included in the session titled “Damage Potential of a Major Hurricane Landfall in the Northeast U.S.”

Dr. Coch noted hurricanes infrequently hit the Northeast, but when they do, they pack a bigger punch and are more dangerous than those that hit places such as the Gulf Coast. “As a hurricane comes north, it undergoes a transition,” he said. “It moves faster forward and its wind field expands.” With the Northeast’s densely developed areas, the economic devastation to the region rivals the economic impact experienced by other areas.

Dr. Coch will reference the effects of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy during his discussion of the geologic, topographic, demographic, meteorological and oceanographic factors influence the outcomes of landfalling hurricanes. He will also review Northeast hurricane history going back to the 1600s, and damage that occurs in urban centers. How land development trends, building codes and shoreline modifications may measure up to what nature may have in store, especially for high value but vulnerable beachfront properties will also be addressed.

Hurricane Damage Potential in U.S. Urban Coastal Areas

In the second session, “Hurricane Damage Potential in U.S. Urban Coastal Areas,” Dr. Coch will explain how hurricanes impact urban coastal areas, not only in the Northeast, but in all areas of the country susceptible to hurricanes. He said factors such as wind-flow pressure play a huge role when hurricanes come up against structures such as skyscrapers. He’ll explain the science behind why, for example, windows get blown out when a hurricane makes landfall in an area dotted with high risk structures.

Dr. Coch said storms the size and scope of Hurricane Sandy have been predicted for years. His warnings have earned him a nickname. “The media started calling me ‘Dr. Doom.’ Now, they call me quite often,” he joked.

He said that while he uses humor in his presentations, his mission is a serious one. “I have a passion for this because I’m an ocean geologist,” he said. “My job as a scientist is to save lives.”

Dr. Coch has served as a consultant to the New York City Emergency Management Organization and to the New York State Office of Emergency Management. He has presented hurricane seminars to insurance, reinsurance, and risk management professionals nationwide and to government officials in southern New York.

Adjuster Continuing Education Credit at Claims Conference

The two hurricane sessions are part of the nearly 100 sessions that will be offered at the 2013 Claims Conference. Many of the sessions are expected to be approved for adjuster continuing education credit.

The 2013 Claims Conference will open Monday, March 18, with the General Session. The keynote speaker will be Fred Reichheld, of Bain and Company. His address, How to Drive Good Profits, True Growth and Loyalty in a Customer-Driven World, in addition to opening the Conference will also connect with the annual presentation of the recognition of the 2013 Outstanding Claim Professionals at the General Session. The recipients of this award have been nominated by their peers in recognition of outstanding claim service delivered to policyholders.

The conference also features a Wednesday luncheon and a presentation about Boston history, Brahmins and Bosses: Some Forgotten and a Few Unforgettable Characters in Boston History, by Peter Drummey of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Insurance Services Expo

The 2013 Insurance Services Expo will open Monday morning, March 18, immediately following the General Session. The Expo, which is an important adjunct to the educational sessions offered at the Claims Conference, will feature hundreds of claims service providers. The Expo is the largest property and casualty insurance expo that focuses exclusively on claims. It will include companies that provide services from claims adjustment and forensic engineering, to accounting services and temporary housing. The Expo will run through Tuesday afternoon, March 19.

For more information about the PLRB/LIRB 2013 Claims Conference, visit or call 630-724-2200.


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