Flood Insurance Claims: A Fat Tail Getting Fatter

Floods remain some of the worst disasters around the world. They cause more property damage and insured losses than many other types of events. In the US, floods are primarily insured through the federally-run National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This program has been making the headlines recently as Congress tries to address the program’s massive […]

Space Launch Risk Redux

Indemnification, the nation’s approach to managing some of the risks associated with the launch of privately owned rockets carrying our satellites for telecommunications, Earth observations, supplies for the International Space Station, and other services, is on its way to becoming a new annual rite of winter.  Specifically, the federal government (taxpayer) indemnifies a portion of […]

The Sandy Supplemental by the Numbers

The amount of federal spending on disaster aid has been growing over time. Hurricane Sandy resulted in an enormous level of supplemental appropriations. For perspective, we compared the Sandy supplemental appropriation, more than $50 billion, with the 2012 federal outlays by agency, excluding entitlement programs, military spending, and debt payments, as shown in Figure 1. […]

Making Flood Insurance Affordable

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) found itself floundering in debt after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, sparking a legislative push to overhaul it. The result was a risk-based pricing plan under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, signed by the president last July after passing with wide bipartisan support. But recently, questions about […]

How Much Do Weather-related Disasters Cost?

Climate scientists predict many weather-related extreme events may be changing in frequency or intensity as the climate warms, or their location, timing, and duration may be changing.  The public also perceives a trend toward more extreme events which they pin on climate change: a 2012 poll of U.S. residents by researchers at Yale found that, […]

Pipeline Safety and Keystone XL

The Premier of Alberta is in town promoting the Keystone XL pipeline. She fielded questions at the Brookings Institution, and regarding a question referring to last month’s spill in Arkansas said ”these are very isolated incidents, and they don’t happen as often as people might suggest that they could.” There are plenty of data on pipeline spills which […]

Responding to Natural Disasters—False Security or Damage Reduction?

Fire, floods, coastal storms, drought—the list of natural disasters that invoke billions in damage to communities and their economies is long and persistent. The tally of costs from Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast continues to mount, mirroring the multi-billion dollar price tags for other hurricane disasters. Yet, year after year, the US Army Corps of […]

Sandy’s Unaccounted-for Costs

Hurricane Sandy and the system it is merging with are predicted to cause substantial damage across the mid-Atlantic. Damages from climate-related disasters, like this one, are on the rise, both within the US and worldwide. This is due in large part to more people, and therefore more buildings, locating in risky areas. It is also […]

Scientists Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for “Optimizing” Uncertainty of L’Aquila Earthquake

A truism in risk management is that every disaster was predicted by someone, sometime, somehow. The 6 April 2009 earthquake that devastated the Italian city of L’Aquila was “predicted” (actually retrodicted: evidence was adduced post hoc) by anomalous toad behavior 70 km away. An earthquake in the Abruzzo region was also predicted by heretic scientist […]

Keeping the Lights on for 670 Million

On July 30th, the northern grid of the Indian electricity network collapsed, causing electricity outages affecting 8 different states. As power was being restored on the 31st, the grid collapsed again. This time along with the northern grid, the eastern and north-eastern grids also collapsed affecting an area populated by an estimated 670 million people. […]