New York City Launches Parametric Flood Program With Insurance, Tech Firms

March 8, 2023

Insurer Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, reinsurance broker Guy Carpenter, and the data technology firm ICEYE have teamed up with New York City government agencies to develop a pilot parametric flood recovery assistance program for low and moderate income households in the city.

The pilot will provide up to $1.1 million in emergency funding to households in need after a major flooding event.

The initiative is part of the city’s multi-agency effort to boost the financial resilience of low- and moderate-income households exposed to flood risk. It is funded by the Department of Homeland Security.

Guy Carpenter, a business of Marsh McLennan, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, and data firm ICEYE provided technical assistance to the city.

The parametric product, insured by Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, will fund rapid cash payments to the New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN) agency which will, in turn, make grants available to households.

The product aims to provide quick payouts if the covered event meets a pre-agreed severity. In the pilot, payouts will be made to CNYCN for qualifying flood events — using a mix of satellite data, on-the-ground real-time sensors, and social media images, compiled by ICEYE.

Once a qualified weather event triggers the payment to the center, its application portal will open and households will be able to apply for grants up to $15,000 from CNYCN within days of a major flood.

ICEYE’s information will be used to determine the overall flood extent as well as flood depth at an individual building level. This information will be provided by ICEYE soon after the peak flooding is captured.

The data will determine the percentage of each neighborhood that falls within the flooded area. If the percentage is above a threshold agreed to in the derivative contract, Swiss Re will issue a payment to CNYCN, which will then distribute grants to households that apply for assistance.

Additionally, the ICEYE data may be used by emergency management agencies throughout the city to improve targeted response activities.

“This innovative inclusive program will stimulate real change in providing immediate access to funds that will allow traditionally marginalized communities to start building towards recovery,” said Christie Peale, executive director, Center for NYC Neighborhoods.

Andy Read, global head of Government Solutions at ICEYE, said this partnership represents a “cornerstone step in the right direction” to addressing a growing flood protection gap.

“New models of disaster finance are urgently needed as the world has been too slow to adopt strong climate policies, driving up the risk of weather-related extremes,” said Carolyn Kousky, associate vice president for Economics and Policy at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the principal investigator on the National Science Foundation grant. “Innovation takes collaboration, and ultimately, we achieve more when we work together.”

The 12-month trial period began in February 2023.

Topics New York InsurTech Flood Tech New Markets

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