Swiss Re’s RDA adding new perils amid international expansion push

Swiss Re is adding flood and hail to its Rapid Damage Assessment (RDA) platform, with clients increasingly recognising the benefits of extreme event planning to drive greater efficiencies when responding to an event, Anil Vasagiri has told The Insurer.

Swiss Re Reinsurance Solutions unveiled its hurricane-focused RDA offering to clients some 18 months ago, with the unit’s vision and mission focused on helping insurers plan their response to extreme events, and then develop a comprehensive and cohesive strategy in the wake of a disaster that drives greater efficiencies, reduces costs and promotes the best outcomes.

Talking to The Insurer, Vasagiri, head of property at Swiss Re Reinsurance Solutions and deputy head of P&C Solutions, explained major natural disasters put significant pressure on claims departments to deploy loss adjusters to handle the sudden surge in claims.

According to Vasagiri, insurers’ event response has historically happened “in somewhat of a disjointed manner”.

“There's clearly been a lack of tools and capabilities that connect all the dots to drive greater efficiency across the system.”

With the RDA platform, Vasagiri said Swiss Re’s insurance clients can initially “actually visualise their portfolio as an event pops up on the horizon to see what the likely impact on their overall book will be”.

That way, clients can establish whether their operations will be impacted in a single state, or multiple states, as well as assess what their likely exposure will be.

When a loss event hits, RDA uses data and natural catastrophe models, along with other tools including highly detailed satellite imagery, to gain accurate insights into property damage, which are then used to support and improve the loss adjustment process.

RDA “can visualise specific insured assets and visualise the likely damage on these assets”, explained Vasagiri, who joined Swiss Re in 2020 from Verisk. “That allows the insurer to plan for response strategy.”

Vasagiri said RDA also enables claims managers to make faster and more accurate decisions in the wake of catastrophes.

“The tool has nascent capabilities that can categorise the damages in any given area – these properties were fine with no damage, these properties had maybe some low damage, through to the ones on the higher end.”

Better post-event outcomes

Vasagiri noted that access to such tools can provide better outcomes for carriers as well as customers, as it gives insurers insight into which claims are the most pressing, limiting the potential for any possible secondary additional loss scenarios.

“You want to [know where to] put in your best claim adjusters and your best personnel, and it also allows you to make your whole overarching claims process more efficient,” the executive said.

“Not only does it make the process more efficient end to end, but it also allows our clients to really live up to the promise of being there for their insured,” Vasagiri stated.

An example of the RDA at work was during last September’s Hurricane Ian.

Venkatesh Srinivasan, head of claims solutions and innovation at Swiss Re, said RDA’s natural catastrophe model-driven loss predictions and actual damage assessment with artificial intelligence on high-resolution imagery helped the reinsurer’s clients assess and optimise adjuster deployments.

RDA also helped insurer clients and their adjusters remotely triage claims and inspect properties that had been impacted by the event.

At the same time, the platform gave insurer clients the ability to proactively reach out to homeowners to extend their support.

Going beyond hurricane

Given RDA’s initial focus on hurricane, the offering’s clients in the early days comprised of carriers underwriting business in Florida. That then broadened to include other southeast US-based insurers, often only doing business in one or two states, with windstorm exposure on their books.

RDA has since expanded beyond its original hurricane focus, with the service now also supporting clients exposed to tornadoes and severe convective storms.

“We've expanded to multi-state regionals as well as some of the larger national insurers which have exposure in multiple geographies,” Vasagiri said.

“That's where we increasingly see greater potential because we can now also handle hail or severe convective storm,” he explained.

Looking ahead, Vasagiri said RDA plans to go live with offerings for flood and hail either later this quarter, or early in Q4.

“As we started expanding the range of perils we cover, then clearly the clients and the clientele are expanding,” he detailed.

International growth

Along with adding to the number of perils RDA can support, and through that growing its reach across the US, Vasagiri said the unit has also set its sights on international expansion, with the service set to soon be offered in Canada, while the company has received interest from clients in other countries around the world too.

“We're trying to stage this such that we cover one geography with all of the offerings, and to the extent that there are some capabilities that we can make available in other parts of the globe with some of the imagery access and all of [the other tools], then we will enable it for those perils,” explained Vasagiri.

“Right now, outside the US, we’re having these conversations in Canada, and in some of the geographies in Europe we’re having early client conversations.

“Japan is another geography where we've gotten some sizable client interest. Australia has a lot of extreme event activity, which seems to have increased over time.

“So we have client interest from those markets, and it's really about trying to align our product roadmap with where we are seeing the most interest from our clients, and then where we can deliver the most impact,” Vasagiri concluded.