The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) co-sponsored a forum last week with the RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation to assess lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy and to examine best practices for mitigating and adapting to severe weather in the future. TheNortheast Risk & Resilience Leadership Forum, hosted in Stamford, Connecticut, brought together 350 industry leaders, environmentalists, policy makers, and scientists to tackle these tough issues just weeks before the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
IBHS’ General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Public Policy Debra Ballen spoke about lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy, and Dr. Ian Giammanco, Lead Research Meteorologist for IBHS, spoke about the science behind Sandy.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (CT), a member of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, also spoke at the event, in addition to Alice C. Hill, the Senior Advisor for Preparedness and Resilience to the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.
Other prominent industry leaders taking part in the forum included Katherine Greig, Senior Policy Advisor, Climate Change and Insurance in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency; Dr. Rick Knabb, Director of the National Hurricane Center; Dr. Bill Read, Knabb’s predecessor; Rachel Cleetus, Senior Climate Economist, Climate and Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists; Brian Swett, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space for the City of Boston; Adam Sobel, Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Applied Physics & Applied Mathematics, Columbia University; and David Marra, SVP and Chief Underwriting Officer – Casualty & Specialty, and head of RenaissanceRe’s newly opened Connecticut office.
“One of the important contributions the scientists and meteorologists taking part in the forum made was giving us a better understanding of the unique weather conditions facing the Northeast,” said Ballen about the event. “This insight will allow the insurance industry to help advance best practices in rebuilding that are universal but also tailored to the unique needs of each region.”
Panel discussions explored what made Sandy a “Super Storm,” how it was different from other major hurricanes, and whether Sandy was the “big one.” Panels also delved into how the view of risk in the region has changed since Sandy, ways to boost resilient recovery following a major event, the appropriate role of government in disaster education, response and recovery, and the question of whether major urban centers were sufficiently prepared to deal with severe weather in the future. The role of coastal ecosystems and land use in protecting communities in the Northeast against severe weather was also addressed.
In addition to IBHS, other forum co-sponsors included the Center for Clean Air Policy(CCAP), the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), the Union of Concerned Scientists, the University of Connecticut Sea Grant program, and WeatherPredict Consulting Inc.