Calculating storm damage easier than ever before through new research

20th November, 2015

Storm damage, particularly wind damage, is one of the greatest causes of property damage in the UK. Severe winds can damage buildings and infrastructure causing interruption to transport and businesses. As an example, the St Jude’s Day storm in October 2013 caused £300 million insured losses in the UK, and £1 billion insured losses across Europe in total. However the Met Office has created the Euro Windstorm Historical Catalogue which uses data from 6,000 past weather patterns; allowing for easier forecasting of the direction and intensity of future storms.

Trains were cancelled across the south east after the St Judes Day storm.

As the title of the report suggests the report is not limited to the UK but across 35 European countries. The new insights into weather patterns are particularly beneficial to insurers. For insurance underwriters, predicting the location and severity of natural perils can be one of the most difficult components in risk calculation. With this new report, the severity, areas at risk and regularity of storms can be easily predicted. The benefit just for insurance companies but also for other enterprises and individual homeowners.

Paul Maisey, science team leader for insurance at the Met Office stated: "We know the considerable damage caused by wind storms over recent decades. Storms like that of 1987, Daria and Lothar have cost the insurance industry billions of pounds. Windstorms are less localised than flood; but they can have a great impact across broad European regions and so have the potential to cause the greatest insurance loss of any peril in a winter season. High resolution hazard maps offer a step forward in managing that risk."

The Euro Windstorm Event Response was established with the assistance of the Extreme Wind Storms Catalogue (XWS) developed through the collaboration of the Universities of Reading and Exeter. A detailed overview of Europe’s 50 most significant storms are freely available.

Through this methodical analysis of previous storms, weather forecasters have a better understanding than ever before of the areas that would be at risk to high wind velocities severe enough to cause damage. By signing up to the service you can receive free alerts for particular regions of interest that may be at risk from serious gales. From an on order basis the Met Office can provide you with ‘Early Warning’ forecast footprints specific to a 4km2 area involving pattern matching to historical storms. Furthermore the service can also provide operational guidance as well as 24-48 hour after the event loss forecasting for your business. A detailed assessment one month after a major storm is also available on a consultancy basis.

The work of the Met Office, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science as well as the Universities of Exeter and Reading have made it easier for insurers to underwrite commercial risks from storm perils. Whatever your industry, Be Wiser Business Insurance can find the policy to best suit your needs, whether it is for business insurance or cover from business interruption.