Insurtech – CAT Models Have Disrupted Insurance for 30 Years

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By FINTECH Books Contributor, Nicholas Lamparelli

Insurtech seems like a new phenomenon but in fact, the single biggest Insurtech disrpution to the insurance industry is decades old and still in full swing. Back in the late-1980’s, the first commercially available Catastrophe (CAT) models were created to little fanfare.

For several years, the insurance industry ignored these models, celebrating their current model-less profitability of their property portfolios during a lull in natural catastrophe activity.

And then came Hurricane Andrew. During the height of the storm Karen Clark from Applied Insurance Research (now AIR Worldwide) sent out a fax predicting that the storm, based on computerized simulations, would generate greater than $10 billion in insured losses. The storm caused approximately $16 billion in insured losses, forcing more than 10 insurers into insolvency and created the first InsurTech success story.

CAT models became required technology for property insurers waking up to the realisation that new tools and new underwriting models were desperately needed. CAT models are now as ubiquitous in the industry as actuaries and claims professionals are.

Many firms even license multiple models from various vendors to magnify the views of risk they can obtain from these tools. And as technology improves, so do the models. CAT models have global reach, simulating perils such as earthquakes, tropical cyclones and flooding across hundreds of countries. Even man-made hazards such as terrorism, product liability and cyber risk are fair game. These models can be used to build a new wave of innovative business.

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