Allianz: Data-Driven Solutions Could Add Predictability to the Weather

Corporations must begin to use data-driven weather risk solutions to guard revenues against volatile climate, Allianz says. 

“Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get,” says Dan Tomlison, managing director of Allianz Risk Transfer (ART), in a report about climate and the economy. “What we are striving to do here is make what we expect much closer to what we get.” 

Weather variations cost the U.S. economy as much as $534 billion a year, reports Allianz Risk Transfer (ART), and impacts nearly 70% of companies. 

Worldwide, insurers paid out $70 billion globally for damages from extreme weather events every year in the past three years alone. In the 1980’s, the cost was $15 billion per year.

“In the past, public companies excused themselves for not meeting revenue goals due to weather events—for example, a sports retailer couldn’t sell as many skis because of a warm winter, or people wouldn’t come to the mall or flights were cancelled because of a storm,” Karsten Berlage, global head of weather risk management at Allianz Risk Transfer, tells PC360.  “Now even construction companies usually pay a penalty for every day they are delayed on finishing a project due to low temperatures. Cold temperatures, snow, rain or wind can cause delays. If they are insured against these losses, the cost is carried on to insurers.” 

Although natural catastrophe losses were mild in 2013, the previous year swung the world between extremes. In the U.S., 2012 produced a drought in the Midwest, wildfires on both costs, and the hottest recorded July. Elsewhere, Russia suffered a severe drought that ruined more than 7.5% of its harvest, while flooding in the U.K. impacted the country’s entertainment and tourism sector with mass cancellations.  

Industries from agriculture to transportation are combining historical risk data—which today’s technology can model back to 50 years ago—along with revenue stream information to create targeted solutions for scenarios in which a changing climate can impact their supply chain and customer activity. 

“Insurance can cover a retailer for lost income due to climate by analyzing retail traffic, and how people behave in certain weather, to determine the trigger,” says Berlage. “It’s not a perfect correlation: five inches of snow in Buffalo, N.Y. is different than in Raleigh, N.C. where locals are most sensitive to snow and may not have four-wheel-drive vehicles.”

Additionally, “Large businesses are generally less sensitive to weather than small, undiversified businesses. It helps that can move inventory between locations when they perceive that weather may affect sales on certain items, like snowblowers or bathing suits. On the other hand, a large national chain is nearly always affected by a single weather event somewhere in the U.S., unlike a small business.”

Tailoring data to industry or client needs allows South American and African farmers to guard against a lack or excess of rain, energy companies to guard against unseasonable temperatures, and wind farm operators to seek protection against low or excessively strong wind. 

Besides responsive insurance solutions, businesses can also take steps to insulate against severe weather from within the organization. 

“Suppliers should look at their weather sensitivities, because if small parts produced in one part of the globe don’t make it to another part of the manufacturing process, the product may not be made on time,” says Berlage. 

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