Natcat models and the importance of collaboration

15 Jul 2016

At the inaugural Catastrophe Knowledge Exchange, held at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue, many of the world's leading natcat modellers met to discuss how to improve their natcat modelling capabilities and to learn from each other. At the event, the speakers spent less time on making formal presentations and more time engaging others in discussions and asking challenging questions.

Catastrophe models have been around for 20 or 30 years, maybe even longer depending on who you ask, even though they were not always referred to as catastrophe models. They have a long tradition in the insurance industry and are considered vital by many functions. Yet, if we look at the models and the results they yield, results can vary from one model to another and from one modeller to another.

As Andreas Schraft, the Head of Cat Perils at Swiss Re, explained in his opening address, understandably, it is only after a catastrophe occurs that we learn the most about models because that's when we compare the model results with what actually happened. Then we see that our models are not yet perfect.

Click on the image below to watch a video interview on the topic with Andreas Schraft

Joining forces to improve catastrophe modelling

There are many examples of various stakeholders working together to analyse and improve natcat models. However, we still see many parallel or isolated efforts that could be better coordinated and leveraged. Joining forces happens on two levels: 1) the technical level and 2) the stakeholder level. By stakeholders, we mean the users of natcat models. All too often, users of models adopt an attitude of “we take what we get”, irrespective of quality, even in global initiatives. 


Anselm Smolka, Senior Advisor and Ex-Secretary General, GEM Foundation

"We can achieve a quantum leap in cat modelling practice by coordinating parallel efforts and by creating an appreciation for high quality", says Anselm Smolka (above), Senior Advisor and Ex-Secretary General for the GEM Foundation.

GEM's global partners - click the image above to read Anselm Smolka's presentation slides

In his presentation, "Joining forces to improve the industry's understanding of catastrophe risks", he points to the GEM initiative as a model case for combining forces across sectors at all scales, as GEM observes the principles of openness, transparency, collaboration and capacity building.   

View Anselm Smolka's slides   Go to the GEM initiative's website

Click below to read the themes from the first Catastrophe Knowledge Exchange:

Find out more about the Catastrophe Knowledge Exchange event

Learn about risk profiling with Swiss Re's CatNet®

Summary by Brian Rogers, Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue