CatRiskTools Catalogue on the Oasis HUB
Stuart Fraser is Disaster Risk and Catastrophe Analytics Consultant with the Insurance Development Forum (IDF). The IDF is a public/private partnership led by the insurance industry and supported by international organisations. The IDF aims to optimise and extend the use of insurance and its related risk management capabilities to build greater resilience and protection for people, communities, businesses, and public institutions that are vulnerable to disasters and their associated economic shocks.
Disaster (or ‘catastrophe’) risk describes the potential impacts of natural hazards on people and their natural and built environments. Catastrophe risk can be managed through a combination of land-use planning; resilient structures and infrastructure; emergency response provisions; and risk financing including insurance. Any strategy must be appropriate for the type of hazard and level of risk, and should be robust enough to achieve their goal under uncertain conditions: in any event the location and scale of impact can never be forecast with 100% accuracy. To fund, design and develop successful catastrophe risk management strategies, we use prior experience and risk assessment tools to estimate how frequently events are expected to occur and what the impacts are likely to be.
Over the last 30 years, a greater number of risk assessment tools have become available to decision-makers in catastrophe risk management and financing. What began as a niche insurance industry capability, with tools first developed for areas with potential for high insured losses, has expanded hugely. These days risk modelling is used increasingly in the development and humanitarian sectors to assess the benefits of risk reduction investments, to develop government risk financing strategies, and to pre-plan humanitarian actions. Many more organisations develop risk assessment tools for this growing user base, and we now have greater choice over the tools we use and how to use them.
CatRiskTools - Bringing It All Together
For the first time, the Insurance Development Forum Risk Modelling and Mapping Group (IDF RMMG), in partnership with Oasis HUB, has developed a free and open access global directory of catastrophe risk assessment tools: ‘CatRiskTools’. CatRiskTools provides a searchable catalogue of existing commercial and non-commercial tools, with key attributes to help a potential user assess which ones are most applicable to the problem they are trying to solve. Information given about each tool includes the hazards and countries that can be analysed, licence type, tool components (e.g., does it analyse insurance policy conditions or the number of fatalities), providers’ contact details and URLs to facilitate access to each tool.
The aim of CatRiskTools is to increase awareness of these important resources among catastrophe risk management stakeholders and decision-makers internationally. We aim to enable access to existing tools that can potentially be used ‘off-the-shelf’ or with some improvement, rather than committing resource to developing new tools from scratch where another risk analysis tool is not required (though it can be valuable to have multiple estimates of risk from different models). Ultimately, the aim is to help more stakeholders obtain a view of risk to help them in catastrophe risk management, and to develop the capacity to sustain that view of risk into the future.
The Right Moment
This catalogue is a timely and an important contribution to improving the sharing of risk information and expertise. For many years, the choice of ‘which model to use for a given hazard and country’ was a luxury limited to hazards and regions where multiple models had been developed for well-developed insurance markets (e.g., North America and Western Europe). Now, this choice is becoming available in regions with developing insurance markets (e.g., South and Central America, Southeast Asia), regions with regional insurance pools (the Caribbean and Pacific) and in some low and middle-income countries.
There is growing international political commitment to expand the provision of insurance to build financial resilience against disasters and impacts of climate change in low and middle-income countries. The G7 countries recently committed to enabling access to insurance for an additional 400 million more people by 2020, and the G20 group of countries have announced a Global Partnership for Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance Solutions. There is also a need to develop sustainable catastrophe risk assessment and management capacity in countries that have typically relied on receiving risk information from international organisations. An overview of available risk assessment tools and improved access to those tools, as provided by CatRiskTools, is vital to these goals.