Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM), part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, has become the first UK insurer to provide both real-time flood warnings to clients triggered by Internet of Things (IoT) sensors placed in watercourses close to their premises and surface water flood warnings.
The ground-breaking initiative will see flood-affected commercial clients receive personalised warnings and graphical representations of water levels in their immediate area, allowing them to take action to protect their premises from flood water.
The IoT sensors are installed in flood-prone rivers, streams and culverts close to selected risks so that LSM’s clients can be notified if water levels in their proximity rise to the point that flooding is a possibility. The sensors also detect when drains and culverts are flooding, so property owners can clear any blockages, if needed, to prevent further flooding.
The sensors are provided by Previsico, a former Lloyd’s Lab InsurTech that has developed sophisticated flood warning capabilities to predict flooding. The sensors are a new addition to Previsico’s solution, which not only provides on the ground real-time warnings, but also feed data into the firm’s flood forecasts to continually improve the accuracy of the system.
The use of sensors means that LSM’s underwriters are able to consider risks where a client has previously had some exposure to flood. Data from the sensors can also be used by LSM’s claims team to aid the process of a claim in the event that flooding does occur.
Carol Baker, LSM’s Head of Customer Proposition, said: “We are seeing increasing flood exposures. By integrating Previsico’s sensors and flood warnings, we can underwrite the risks at a sustainable rate knowing that we have real-time warnings in place and clients know how to respond should they receive an alert.
“Flooding is a major issue for our clients and the insurance industry. This initiative based on the use of sensors connected to Previsico’s flood forecasts is a practical response – one that gives underwriters the confidence they need to provide cover to clients with the added reassurance of tailored alerts and risk engineering support.”
Jonathan Jackson, Previsico’s CEO, said: “We have successfully trialled the sensors in a range of UK locations and were impressed with the results, including Whalley, Lancashire, where a flood was averted after risk mitigation measures were taken. Installing sensors and then feeding the data into our flood model will provide detailed local information, thus improving our overall picture of the country.
“Because we install the sensors in ordinary watercourses close to the insureds’ premises, we get a very precise and relevant picture of what’s happened locally. It generates a personalised alert that will give the insured time to prevent or prepare for a flood, thus reducing the amount of damage and insurance loss that could be incurred.”
LSM’s underwriting and risk engineering teams will identify clients in primarily their Property and Construction books who would benefit from the use of the sensors. The sensors will then be installed in local watercourses, each calibrated to the client’s specific flood risk. If a sensor is triggered by rising water levels, a notification is sent via LSM’s Risk Reduce customer portal. If the risk of flooding is severe, an SMS message is sent direct to the client.
In addition to those clients monitored by sensors, Previsico’s flood forecasts will provide advance warnings to Commercial Property and Construction clients in up to 10,000 locations through LSM’s Risk Reduce customer portal. The system provides each client with a personalised real-time view of flood forecasting across their property estates, highlighting where they might be impacted during the next 48 hours. This is visualised for them along with appropriate risk engineering guidance within the portal.
Carol Baker said: “What’s exciting about the potential of Previsico’s technology is that it allows us to use data intelligently and integrate it seamlessly into Risk Reduce, our risk management portal for customers. This provides very real value to our insureds.”
Previsico’s sensors are battery powered and communicate wirelessly.
While the Environment Agency does currently provide flood warnings, these are for major rivers and coastal areas only. The system used by Previsico and LSM also monitors surface water flooding and ordinary watercourses such as small rivers and streams near to insureds’ premises.