As each of us across Swiss Re works to deliver on our client promise in a way that makes a real difference for both our clients' businesses and our own, we sometimes forget the power of conversation. I had a wonderful reminder recently about the effectiveness of simple client engagement in seeking understanding and, hopefully, leading to sustainable solutions. I found my experience worth sharing, and I hope you do, too.
I had the privilege of spending a week talking with clients in Asia and Australia about the 2017 natural catastrophes in North America. I noticed during these conversations that there comes a point in every session when heads start to nod in recognition and agreement . . . proof that as unique as the NA events of 2017 were, here half a world away, the issues our clients face are similar. No matter what the peril, no matter where in the world they occur, we all face similar challenges. Every one of our clients wanted to know more about the unprecedented year of natural catastrophe losses. So, we talked about hurricanes and the floods they brought, and we talked about wildfires and the mudslides they brought. We shared with these clients in Asia and Australia the lessons we have learned in the year following these events. We gained these insights through a series unique conversations in 2018 with our Americas clients hardest hit by the three clustered hurricanes in the Americas –- Harvey, Irma and Maria (HIM). Our Americas clients' candor and knowledge gave us a deeper understanding of these issues and helped us prioritize where we must look for solutions. And we are delighted to now share these lessons with Swiss Re's customers worldwide.
My week started in Kuala Lumpur where Swiss Re hosted a roundtable discussion with eight claims leaders and underwriters from four of our key Malaysia clients. Malaysia has suffered five major flood events since 2010, with estimated market losses totaling over $300 million. In fact, the city offered up a minor flash flood in front of Swiss Re's offices the day before our roundtable to remind us of the risk! These clients were surprised that only 15-20 percent the homeowners in Houston that suffered damage had flood insurance. The significant protection gap was unexpected in a market as sophisticated as the US and in the city of Houston where the risk of flooding is well known. So we talked about the protection gap for natural catastrophes, particularly flood, and Swiss Re's private flood coverage solutions and tools.
In Sydney, we met with our strategic clients in the Australia New Zealand market who understood the challenges of a series of large catastrophe events. New Zealand faced a series of earthquakes and aftershocks in 2010 and 2011, and our clients in this market know too well how difficult it is to find adjusters with the expertise needed to handle losses from unique perils in a part of the world without a large population of adjusters. Like our customers in the Americas, our Asia Pacific clients agree that we have to better leverage technology to ease the strain on adjusting resources. There were great conversations about what how our clients are currently using technology – drones, claims apps, shared adjusters solutions – and what technologies we should be focusing on in the future – geospatial imaging for example. The resources are essential. If there is a perception that insurers are not quickly and fairly resolving these catastrophe losses, we are creating a void that will be filled by public adjusters in the Americas, "storm chasers" in Australia, and regulators and attorneys in all markets.
Our Australian clients share an interest in the challenges of increasing frequency and severity of wildfire losses. They understand that the focus has to move from paying losses to preventing them. So we talked about how regulators are more receptive to the industry's input on building codes and resiliency efforts after these events, using recent California legislation as an example.
Swiss Re also hosted a webinar for a broader client audience of around 60 clients in Asia and Australia, where the question and answer portion covered a broad range of common issues. Our clients were curious about the impact the clustered events had on adjuster resources and the aggregation of losses under the reinsurance contracts. We noted that regulators did waive some licensing requirements to allow out of state adjusters to respond to Irma losses in Florida. There were several questions about how drones and adjusting apps are being used to ease the reliance on adjusting resources. If you are interested in listening to a recording of the webinar, please let me know and I can share it. Finally, we had a chance to share with Swiss Re colleagues our lessons learned during a luncheon session.
It's clear that our clients are hungry for the information exchanged because the conversation continues. The feedback from clients has been rewarding – one reinsurance buyer called it fascinating! Since my visit, clients have reached out to our Client Markets and Underwriting teams to discuss new products that could fill the protection gap. A client let us know that in Australia, the Insurance Council is hosting discussions with insurers about storm chasers to share ideas to help customers make informed decisions about the services provided.
For me, the week was a reminder of the importance of each of us sharing our stories of successes and challenges following large natural catastrophes so we can identify common challenges and focus our resources on finding lasting solutions for our clients. A big thank you goes to my colleagues @Vivek Kuruvila, @Balasubramanian Nagarajan, @Hima Yalavali, @Marcel Papp, @Jimi Groom, @Sheema Khurshed, @Katrin Porm and all the client executives and claims experts who worked to make this trip productive for our clients and equally enlightening (and fun) for me.
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Disaster risk, Other