Business Interruption - Establishing the facts through imagery and geospatial analysis

March 25, 2019 09:00

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Introduction

McKenzie Intelligence Services continue to consolidate their support to the insurance market during and in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, such as the US Atlantic Hurricane Seasons of 2017 and 2018. In addition to this traditional support, our imagery and geospatial analysis services are proving to be equally as valuable in the post-event environment.

Background

Once the initial and immediate pressing issues are dealt with, to get a city or region back to some resemblance of normality, organisations, authorities and commercial entities begin to discern the impact and cost to their operations resulting from the catastrophic events that befell them. In many cases, this may be physical damage to property and resources - a quantifiable process that can be backed up with actual evidence to inform the loss adjustment process. However, not so easy to calculate is the impact, both actual and economic, experienced by a commercial entity due to other factors beyond physical damage to property. This may include wider factors beyond the immediate location of the premises in question, which consequently have implications on staff and clients being able to get to that location. In technical parlance, disruption to ingress and egress.

Many environmental factors will impact ingress and egress:

  • Structural damage to essential infrastructure (roads, bridges, transportation hubs, power etc.);
  • Debris and storm detritus causing obstacles; and
  • Flooding.

The insured party will calculate the overall impact to its business as a result of all of the factors following a catastrophic event. This will include the overall impact to loss of revenue as a result of disruption to ingress and egress. Occasionally, a discrepancy may exist between the insured party’s figure and that of the insurance market. In this instance, MIS have a service line which can deliver a factual based analysis to quantify the true impact to ingress and egress.

All-source analysis

When working on a Business Interruption task, the MIS Imagery Analysts will seek to access data from all available sources from the area in question. Such data will include:

  • all aerial, radar and satellite imagery;
  • up-to-date mapping;
  • local and regional authority data; and
  • media reporting; and traffic data.

The data from these sources is processed independently of each other to produce a number of geographic layers on our GIS platform, the sum of which is used to produce a consolidated picture of the ‘ground truth’ over the reporting period.

Aerial and Satellite Imagery

Such imagery is often difficult to obtain in the immediate aftermath of an extreme weather event due to conditions, such as cloud cover, and weather impact on flying conditions. Once collected though, imagery is a valuable source of data which allows the Analyst to accurately identify the conditions on the ground. Aerial imagery delivers high resolution definition. Satellite imagery comes in multispectral and hyperspectral formats but to a lower resolution. The advantage of collecting in multi bands of the electromagnetic spectrum means the Analyst can run the imagery through a number of processes to bring out certain surface types such as vegetation and water, for example to map the flooding.

Similarly, radar imagery is a low resolution option that can be used when cloud cover and weather prevents traditional imagery collection. When processed and analysed by trained Imagery Analysts, radar can highlight the presence of water and help with mapping the flooding.

Example of Level of Detail Obtained from Aerial Imagery

Official Data

The local and regional authorities publish a wealth of data relating to flooding, road closures and other issues which will impact on the ability to transit through an area. This data allows the Analyst to produce a layer of road closures and restrictions. Certain areas, which may be prone to flooding, often enjoy other semi-official services which for instance, warn of and map flooding. This data is very useful to fill in the geographical and chronological gaps where imagery may not be available. Another useful source of information comes from the variety of traffic monitoring systems, those that monitor traffic flow, density and average speed. All this information builds up a picture of how the traffic moves around the area in question.

Media

Local, national and social media can be a useful mine of information. Many media outlets will publish information to inform their audience of the present situation, detailing precise locations and problems. Users of social media also publish photographs and other details which build up a picture.

Establishing the ‘Ground Truth’

With the data from all of the available sources plotted and mapped in multiple layers of geospatial data, it is overlaid onto digital mapping. Very quickly the Analyst has developed a picture of the situation of the area of interest on a day by day basis.

Plotting Obstructions Such as Severity of Flooding

The layers highlight those roads, highways, primary, secondary and local streets that are passable and impassable. Conducting further analysis, the Analyst is able to quickly map those areas where the impact of the restrictions is such that it will impact on ingress and egress to a specific location.

In one of our most recent cases, the insurance policy detailed a radius around the location of the insured premises, within which, issues with ingress and egress would be covered. Our Analyst was able to overlay the consolidated analysis over the radius and determine by percentage, how much of the area within the radius has an ingress and egress impact.

Shaded Areas Identify Areas Where Ingress / Egress are Affected within Radius of Premises

With this data, the Analyst produces a highly detailed report, complete with all mapping and geospatial data. The report included a day by day situation map of the location of interest. It is a report based on fact, backed up with supporting data to qualify the Analyst’s findings. It is impartial and objective and provides a robust reference tool from which to inform the decision making when deciding the appropriate settlement to an insurance claim.

Ingress / Egress States on a Day by Day Basis

Fore more information on how we can provide the intelligence you need for your business interuption cases, from the most simple to the most complex, and how we can help reduce your claims, please email: mail@mckenzieintelligence.co.uk

Stuart Ray, Lead Concierge & Senior Imagery Analyst

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Published on March 25, 2019 09:00

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