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PERILS to provide satellite images showing extent of flood events in Europe


PERILS AG, the Zurich-based independent provider of industry-wide European catastrophe insurance data and loss indices, has announced a new initiative which will see PERILS team up with the European Space Agency (ESA) to make available satellite-based flood footprint imagery during and after major European flood events.

The project will enable interested parties in the re/insurance sector to download flood footprints from the PERILS website. PERILS says that these can be used to facilitate rapid flood impact assessments and will help to broaden the understanding of insured flood risk
and ultimately help to expand the range of available flood insurance solutions.

This project is a joint effort involving satellite operators, earth observation service providers and the insurance industry. It is supported by Allianz, EQECAT, ESA, Guy Carpenter, Munich Re, PERILS, SERTIT, Swiss Re, Vista and Willis.

Luzi Hitz, CEO of PERILS, commented on the project; “We are glad to be able to act as a distribution platform for satellite earth observation information for major global flood events. This fits perfectly with PERILS’ overall strategy to provide ready-to-use data to the insurance industry to help improve the understanding of Nat Cat risk.”

Eduard Held, Head of Products at PERILS, added; “This project is going to satisfy a longstanding industry need for detailed flood information during and after large events. While it has been possible to access satellite images in the past, this is the first time that insurers will be able to access images which have been standardized to better suit their specific requirements.”

Dependent on the scale and duration of a particular flood event, high-resolution flood boundaries will be made available on a daily basis while events are developing, facilitating an immediate assessment of the possible impact of the events. That sort of immediate data will be helpful for re/insurers to better understand the extent of an events potential exposure on their bottom line. In addition, after a flood event, a map showing the maximum extent of the flooding during the entire lifetime of the event will be produced.

During an initial 12-month trial period all interested parties will be able to download the flood footprint information free of charge. You can access more information on the satellite imagery here:

It’s an interesting move from PERILS, as a flood footprint alone is unlikely to ever become a mechanism for measuring or triggering a risk transfer contract, such as a catastrophe bond or industry-loss warranty. That’s not to say this isn’t very relevant for PERILS and it does fit well with their other work around flood loss data collection and distribution.

Similar satellite data sources are used in microinsurance weather risk products, such as the FESA satellite-based drought index-insurance product which is growing in use across Africa. Earth observation data is playing an increasing role in the creation of weather-index insurance products around the world. Perhaps the flood footprint imagery could be a step towards enabling parametric indices to be created for European flood events based on the maximum extent of flooding maps? Whatever the use of these flood footprints, the fact PERILS is helping to make them available should be lauded as they will be very useful tools to help improve the re/insurance sectors understanding of flood risks and to inform better underwriting.

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