Every year, the U.S. finds itself spending an average of 8 billion dollars on flood damage, according to the National Weather Service. And, with death tolls increasing in recent decades to more than 100 lives being taken by floods every year, advancements in flood risk assessment and management are becoming more crucial than ever.
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) recognizes there is room for improvement in the approach the U.S. takes in regards to flood catastrophe and called on some of the nation’s most cutting edge technology providers during the 2019 National Flood Conference to demonstrate how they are driving change.
The 2019 National Flood Conference
Every year, the APCIA holds the National Flood Conference in Washington, D.C. This year, the 3-day conference gathered government officials, insurance company executives, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), along with three innovative insurtech startups, including Zesty.ai, to discuss the opportunities inherent in leveraging technology to better understand flood risk in the U.S.
The goal of this year’s National Flood Conference was to discuss FEMA’s newest effort to modernize flood risk assessment and hear from the insurtech change-makers within the industry.
Current U.S. Flood Risk Efforts
Although the last decade alone has demonstrated that flooding is a growing problem Americans cannot ignore, efforts to advance flood risk assessment and flood insurance have seen little success in recent years.
In fact, the method in which FEMA currently rates a property’s flood risk and prices insurance has remained unchanged since it’s initial development in the 1970s. However, as technology continues to evolve, FEMA’s understanding of flood risk is reaching new heights as well.
Earlier this year, FEMA announced the proposal of a new risk management system called, Risk Rating 2.0. This updated effort would use data referred to as “commercial catastrophe models” as well as the “geographic and structural characteristics” of the home to more accurately calculate property flood risks, Bloomberg reports.
FEMA’s modernized approach toward the way they rate a property’s flood risk and price insurance aims to leverage best practices within the insurance industry along with advanced technology to deliver “rates that are fair, easy to understand, and better reflect a property’s unique flood risk,” says FEMA.
ZestyAI Founder & CEO speaks on a panel joined by fellow Insurance Technology CEOs at the 2019 National Flood Conference
How AI is Revolutionizing the Future of Flood Risk Assessment
The National Flood Conference—held to discuss the recent advancements in flood risk assessment—featured three startups asked to share insight on their own technologies that are drastically changing how we prepare for and recover from flooding catastrophes. Among these innovative insurtech startups, ZestyAI CEO, Attila Toth, was invited to shed light on the emerging AI and machine learning technologies that are revolutionizing flood risk assessment.
“Cutting edge technologies, such as AI-enabled computer vision and machine learning are providing brand new opportunities to model flood risk and reduce the mass amounts of property destruction and the rising death tolls we are seeing occur in the U.S. as a result of these catastrophes,” Toth says.
ZestyAI uses artificial intelligence to extract key risk insights from high-resolution satellite and aerial and terrestrial imagery that allows government agencies and private insurance companies to gain insight on flood risks. With that insight, they will be able to determine the extent and probability of property damage and accordingly implement resiliency programs within local communities to mitigate flood destruction.
“With computer vision, we capture key risk modifiers, such as First Floor Height, from high-resolution digital imagery,” Toth explains. “This allows us to build better predictive flood models that rely on high fidelity property-specific risk modifiers.”
ZestyAI has built a Risk Analytics Platform powered by AI to successfully assess property and casualty risk across other natural perils such as wildfires, hurricanes, and convective storms.
“We look forward to the opportunity to partner government agencies and private carriers alike in their quest to modernize flood risk management and together, make a difference in the way our country approaches flood disasters,” says Toth.
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