Originally published in Business Insurance.
Hurricane Harvey, which caused devastating floods in Texas in August, provided a sobering reminder of the importance of understanding and mitigating flood risks.
FM Global's Global Flood Map, a 2017 Business Insurance Innovation Awards winner, was created to give risk managers and other stakeholders a free tool to assess flood exposures and enhance their loss-prevention and site-location decisions.
The interactive map, whose development was propelled by Superstorm Sandy, provides a global view of high- and moderaterisk flood zones, allowing risk managers and others to determine if their properties are at risk. Users can determine whether their business locations reside in a flood zone by typing in physical addresses. The map identifies high hazards, highlighted in pink if a location is in a 100-year flood zone, meaning it has a 1% chance per year of experiencing a flood; and moderate hazards, highlighted in yellow if a location is in a 500-year flood zone, meaning it has a 0.2% chance per year of experiencing flooding.
Nearly 10,000 people worldwide have registered to use the map since its March 31 public launch, including risk managers, brokers, insurers, reinsurers and government officials.
"It seems to have hit a sweet spot for a need with people around the world," said Brion Callori, senior vice president and manager of engineering and research at the Johnston, Rhode Island-based insurer. "A lot of them are using it when they are looking at new facilities."
A long-time FM Global client operating in the data recovery sector recently dealt with a situation in which a major client of its own expressed concern about the FM Global client's European facility being in a flood zone, which the FM Global client disproved using the flood map, he said.
"We actually helped our client keep their client," Mr. Callori said.
Companies can identify the base flood risk for all their facilities at a resolution of just 90 meters by 90 meters (roughly 300 feet by 300 feet), which will be improved to 30 meters (roughly 100 feet) post-2018 to improve its accuracy, with storm surge also incorporated into the map, he said.
"For properties that are coastal, it will be a critical addition to the tool," he said.