Canadian Underwriter

“Clear and direct communication line” needed between insurers and Canadian Hurricane Centre: ICLR

August 24, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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A “clear and direct communication line” should be established between the Canadian insurance industry and the Canadian Hurricane Centre (CHC), the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) recommended in a research paper released on Thursday.

The recommendation was one of two for the insurance industry contained in the report, titled Communicating hurricane risk in Eastern Canada: Enhancing the communication lines between the Canadian Hurricane Centre, municipalities and insurers. The other recommendation was that communication within the insurance industry should be focused on risk-based analyses.

“Collaborative approaches, which include the participation of key players in the private sector (i.e. the insurance industry), can increase the likelihood that [emergency management organizations (EMOs)] can effectively manage emergency situations and improve outcomes for their publics,” the report said.

The report also contained four government-centric recommendations:

  1. Provincial and local governments should consider mandating compulsory training in the CHC’s severe interpretation course;
  2. Emergency management at the municipal level should be expanded to support all phases of emergency management;
  3. EMOs should heighten, develop and expand sources of institutional memory; and
  4. The warning structure should be changed from a hazard-based analysis to a risk-based/impact-based analysis.

“These reform options are designed to accommodate the existing emergency response framework and represent tangible, measurable and achievable options for tailoring the emergency management and response strategies for both the warning and insurance communities,” the report suggested.

The recommendations are derived from a series of interviews with emergency management professionals in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and a survey of the Canadian insurance industry.

The report noted that hurricanes represent a critical challenge for EMOs in Atlantic Canada: “these storms, while possessing similar baseline characteristics and identifying features, invariably possess a degree of distinctiveness and novelty, which translate into unique challenges for emergency managers and their organizations.” Furthermore, the dynamic nature of systems within their jurisdictions requires EMOs to continually assess and refine their approaches, methods and strategies. “The link between climate change, hurricanes and public and private loss furthers this imperative in the Atlantic region,” noted the report.

In addition to the six recommendations, the paper identifies three areas that could benefit from additional research: (1) jurisdictional complications and their relation to weather forecasting and emergency response; (2) demographic trends in the Atlantic region; and (3) warning fatigue.

“Refining the communication strategies possessed by EMOs in the Atlantic region represents a tangible and important step forward in the evolution of these institutions, and one that is necessitated by scientific projections,” the report concluded.

Communicating hurricane risk in Eastern Canada was written by principal investigator Paul Kovacs, executive director of the ICLR, with help from research assistants Sophie Guilbault, ICLR’s manager of partnership development and Brian Pentz, a PhD student in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Toronto.

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