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Responding quickly during a flooding event

Expert comment from Rob Osment, Global GeoRisk Director, RSA. The GeoRisk team is part of RSA’s Global Centre of Excellence, and offers services across the whole of the RSA business.

As the UK has been hit with torrential rainfall in recent months, it’s essential that insurers have the capability to rapidly respond to major flood events. At RSA we rely on geographical information systems (GIS) and accurate spatial data in order to make informed decisions on how and where to deploy resources.

Our GeoRisk team is continually developing innovative solutions to improve the service we provide to our customers. To achieve this, accurate data is paramount. We first realised the true value of GIS in 2002 when developing our UK-wide flood model. It allowed us to gain an improved understanding of our exposure to risk, leading to better pricing and the ability to market our products more accurately. Since then, we have significantly enhanced our geographic analysis capability, particularly when it comes to responding to major weather events.

When a catastrophic event occurs, our in-house loss adjusters are faced with a number of questions – how do we locate our customers and how many have been affected? Where do we deploy our Emergency Response Vehicle and how many staff should we send to the scene? These key questions are easily answered within minutes using GIS and data from Ordnance Survey. This has proved to be invaluable, enabling us to accurately locate our customers to their individual properties, identifying the spatial extent of postcode boundaries and visualising the surrounding area with detailed background mapping. This means our loss adjusters can immediately respond to our customers’ needs.

We are quickly able to distinguish where, and how many of our policyholders are in relation to catastrophic risk. Straight away, we have an appreciation of the magnitude of the event. In the past few months, our GIS tool has proved invaluable, allowing us to be the first insurer on the scene, to visit affected customers in flooded areas, before they even register a claim.

Simon Waring, owner of Ryburne Insurance Brokers in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, was one of the customers we were able to help: "Our premises, and those of some of our local clients, have been flooded twice in the last three weeks.

"It’s tough because as soon as we’ve cleared up from one flood, the rain hits again. Thankfully, we’ve had fantastic support, particularly RSA, who actually turned up to offer support unprompted. We had an interim payment from them for one of our local businesses within three days, which was excellent and certainly for our clients they were the first insurer to pay out in the town. It helps to have that peace of mind when disaster strikes."

Products used

AddressBase Premium is the most accurate geographic dataset of addresses, properties and land areas.

A detailed, street-level, backdrop map that you can customise, OS VectorMap Local is ideal when you need a map tailored to your project or web applications.

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