Part 1 of 4

Rapid Damage Assessment: using data to get ahead of the storm

5 minute read
Rapid Damage Assessment Image of a map depicting the wind currents during Hurricane Ian
As Hurricane Ian gained strength before making landfall in Florida, Swiss Re’s US Claims and Solutions team was ahead of the storm. Swiss Re’s Rapid Damage Assessment (RDA) solution was used to accelerate the process of forecasting hurricane claims. An artificial intelligence-driven set of tools, RDA provides granular, predictive loss assessment data to clients, such as Security First Insurance.

As soon as it became clear that Hurricane Ian would make landfall in Florida, Swiss Re began delivering insights into thousands of individual Security First Insurance policies that could be triggered by property damage from the hurricane. By the time Ian moved inland, Security First was in the process of reserving, planning loss adjustment and allocating claims resources.

Abhishek Mishra from Swiss Re’s RDA team worked closely with Security First Insurance during Hurricane Ian. “Our work began even as Ian was still developing. Before it landed in Florida, we were getting data and images to provide clarity on the probable impact on our clients’ portfolios. We could then combine these high-tech image-capture tools with our AI”, explains Abhishek.

RDA Water Depth Mapping
Impact analysis model of water levels after 2020 Japanese floods
Hurricane Ian Screenshot (2)
Model of estimated damages following Hurricane Ian (map data: Mapbox)

RDA draws on Swiss Re’s proprietary hazard models, analysis of a client’s portfolio and artificial intelligence on aerial imagery to assess the impact of natural catastrophes – with the process starting before the catastrophe even strikes.

Quick access to insights is valuable to insurers because assessing their claims burden in the aftermath of natural disasters proves challenging. For Hurricane Ian, Swiss Re’s own internal assessment, the so-called Post Event Catastrophe Assessment Team (PECAT) process, took approximately three weeks of intensive portfolio analysis overlaid with natural catastrophe modelling to ensure that Swiss Re could announce a robust best estimate to the market.

For clients like Security First Insurance, things need to move fast. It is imperative that they can get information about damages and effectively allocate their claims resources – even if impacted areas remain inaccessible.

With RDA, Swiss Re's teams used high-resolution aerial images to detect the severity of damage for insured properties on clients' books. Within six days, they had assessed 35 000 properties, and after two weeks, this grew to over 88 000 properties. 

Properties assessed only six days after Hurricane Ian


Properties assessed only two weeks after Hurricane Ian


Abhishek explains: “Claims payments are what people need from their insurer when disaster hits – and the sooner the better. RDA allows clients to efficiently plan resources. They know where to focus. This planning helps them keep costs down throughout the claims cycle.”

The RDA solution’s insights also helped insurers reach out to clients. Since many policyholders have only a holiday home in Florida, but live elsewhere, many were out of town during Ian. RDA’s insights allowed many clients to let these policyholders know they may be able to file claims.

For the team involved, this proved to be rewarding work – with people directly benefitting from Swiss Re’s technology and pre-planning. Abhishek notes: “Across the RDA team, we are very aware that speeding up claims means speeding up recovery. This gives us an enormous amount of pride in our work. My passion is cutting-edge tech. With RDA, I am combining that passion with a satisfying purpose – helping communities rebuild and making the world more resilient.”

Abhishek Mishra


Abhishek Mishra

Abhishek Mishra

Senior RDA Product Manager

Abhishek’s work with RDA draws on artificial intelligence, portfolio analytics and state-of-the-art information gathering in order to get claims assessed faster.

Feature Stories

Explore our Business Report 2022

Financial strength

P&C Re 10-year combined ratio on natural catastrophe business, 2013–2022


P&C Re’s achieved price increases in 1 January 2023 renewals


P&C Re’s portfolio growth in natural catastrophe business at 1 January 2023 renewals


Swiss Re has carefully steered its natural catastrophe business and for P&C Re, achieving an average 10-year combined ratio of 77%. As the global property reinsurance market moved into a “hard market” in 2022, Swiss Re achieved strong price increases and grew its business. 

Building resilience 

Global economic losses from natural catastrophes in 2022 (USD)


Global insured losses from natural catastrophe losses in 2022 (USD)


Estimated global natural catastrophe reinsurance premiums in 2022 (USD)


In 2022 alone, global economic losses from natural catastrophes soared to USD 275 billion. The insurance industry provided USD 125 billion in claims payments. However, the protection gap remained well over 50% of all losses.

Estimated insurance industry claims for Hurricane Ian (USD)


Swiss Re claims for Hurricane Ian (USD)


Natural catastrophe claims in (P&C Re) for 2022 (USD)


Hurricane Ian is estimated to have cost the insurance industry USD 50–65 billion, making it the second-costliest hurricane on record. Swiss Re expects to provide USD 1.3 billion in claims to hundreds of clients for this event.  

Research and development

Swiss Re's proprietary natural catastrophe models Covering 90% of global insured exposures


Global insured exposures covered by Swiss Re's models


Scientists employed by Swiss Re's natural catastrophe modelling team



For its natural catastrophe business, Swiss Re currently employs more than 50 dedicated scientists who maintain around 200 natural catastrophe models. These models provide insights into over 90% of the world’s insured exposures.