Extreme weather events: How hard lessons strengthen resilience against the next big event

Zurich Insurance Company used its Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) methodology to analyze major flood events in terms of disaster risk management. PERC studies were conducted on 12 flooding disasters worldwide between 2013 and 2018 including floods in Boulder, CO in 2013; Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina, 2015; and Houston in 2017. The report describes the various steps of the disaster risk management cycle, as well as the challenges and focal strategies for risk managers in preparing for and responding to disasters. Several of the studies reviewed the science on the increasing frequency and severity of climate hazards, especially extreme precipitation and storm surges.

An inclusive PERC study focuses on the resilience of people, supply chains, systems, legal and cultural norms - before, during and after a disaster. In particular, the study analyzes:

  • Attempts to manage and mitigate disaster risk
  • How organizations and communities respond immediately after an event to protect lives and property
  • What is done to aid recovery, including actions to help people cope with the impacts of the disaster, restore services and support reconstruction efforts
  • Critical gaps and opportunities, particularly actionable opportunities to reduce risk and build long-term resilience

Insurance protection will support a company’s financial resilience during a disaster, as well as the development of a response strategy. In addition, the report highlights how retaining a customer or supplier base that will continue to buy or supply products and maintain a revenue stream after a disaster - is critical.

The following risk management recommendations are discussed in greater detail in the report:

  • Focus on prevention as a more effective risk management approach than recovery. Preparing for disasters by reducing the exposure while developing strong response and building continuity plans makes businesses more resilient to the threat of potential shocks.
  • Understand high-value supply chain vulnerabilities and interconnected risks. In managing these risks, companies lessen the chance that a disaster will cause unexpected ripple effects that could shut down operations.
  • Stress employee preparedness at work and home. This ensures employees remain safe and are in a position to help keep the business running from a remote location if needed.
  • Review insurance coverage. Proper multi-hazard coverage will speed recovery and allow businesses to be up and running faster, which means retaining a customer base rather than re-attracting one.
  • Conduct a post-event review if disaster strikes. Lessons from what worked and what didn’t will better prepare the organization for the next disaster, should it occur.


Publication Date: June 11, 2018

Related Organizations:

  • Zurich Insurance Group Ltd.


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Case study


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