Aon Benfield created a powerful analytics solution called ImpactOnDemand. A key component of the solution is a mapping tool that presents complex catastrophe data in a simple, user-friendly way. Recently, the company upgraded its mapping tool
with Bing Maps technology. Users can now compare and contrast risk factors worldwide, and create intuitive visualisations of complex data.
Aon Benfield is a global reinsurance intermediary and full-service capital adviser that provides clients with catastrophe management, and actuarial, risk, and capital strategy expertise. Reinsurance is the process of providing insurance to insurance companies.
In the event of a catastrophe, where hundreds of thousands of claims can be made, companies that have reinsured other insurance providers are responsible for a specific portion of claims payouts.
A strategic, cost-effective reinsurance plan is critical because catastrophes can result in millions of dollars of claims at one time. But reinsurance is a risky business. The greater the insight into location-based risk factors—from hurricanes to terrorist
attacks—and their impact, the more effectively an insurance company can underwrite its business to manage the cost of its reinsurance. Low frequency, high severity disasters—highly unpredictable events with devastating results, such as the 2011 tsunami in
Japan—illustrate the complexity of predicting and assessing risk, which reinsurance is used to mitigate. The process involves comparing and contrasting different data sets to create a picture of the likelihood and impact of disasters in different locations.
Data is then used by companies to determine factors such as the reinsurance premiums they need to charge or coverage they want to provide.
To assist analysts and clients, Aon Benfield invests more than U.S.$120 million a year in people and technology that support strategic decision making. As part of its development services, Aon Benfield created ImpactOnDemand, a web-based platform that gives
clients the ability to visualise and quantify their exposure to risk, along with sophisticated data analysis and reports. One of the most customer-centric features of ImpactOnDemand is an interactive mapping tool that presents data in a user-friendly way.
||Analysts are better able to understand potential risks with ImpactOnDemand, and, with the visual presentation of data in Bing Maps, it’s easier for them to communicate this complex information to clients.
| Douglas Olson
When Aon Benfield saw the integration between Bing Maps and its platform, the company upgraded to Bing Maps with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 software. Douglas Olson, Managing Director, Aon Benfield, says: “We needed worldwide mapping capabilities and Bing
Maps has exceptional coverage, flexibility, and support. Our development team was quick to pick up the technology, creating rich, unique functionality for ImpactOnDemand.”
SQL Server 2008 offers reporting functionality and support for spatial—specialised time and location-dependent— data. “We configured the solution with our own algorithms to make this a fast, responsive solution,” says Olson. Bing Maps is integrated with
the database to provide visual, location-based reports for tasks such as underwriting analysis, risk-driver analysis, and identifying exposure accumulations around terrorist targets.
Analysts can view and track exposure to risk across the world on catastrophes as diverse as earthquakes, wildfires, and tropical cyclones. With thematic maps, users can view data according to themes. For example, by postal code, zone, or country—filtering
data sets and files for at-a-glance views of risk types and impact in different locations. There’s no limit to the number of records and locations that can be viewed at one time.
For example, an analyst could view insured locations in Japan and create a catastrophe footprint indicating the different levels of shaking for an earthquake in different regions. Data is presented in a visual, colour-coded format. Satellite and aerial imagery
intensify the visual experience, making it easier for analysts and their clients to understand the level of risk posed. “With Bing Maps, our users have a great visual experience. Our platform’s interface uses colour and interactivity, and provides a variety
of viewing options, including point locations, thematic maps by geographic boundaries, heat maps, and other creative visualisations,” says Olson.
With ImpactOnDemand, users can identify the level of risk present at different locations based on the most up-to-date data available. The innovative use of mapping and visualisation with Bing Maps and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 has enhanced the solution.
Reduced business risk. Analysts use the business intelligence and maps when working with clients to help them get an insight into risk and devise management strategies. Olson says: “Analysts are better able to understand potential risks
with ImpactOnDemand, and, with the visual presentation of data in Bing Maps, it’s easier for them to communicate this complex information to clients.”
Global reach with quick, powerful map platform. ImpactOnDemand can map up to one million locations in one second from a web browser. Olson says: “We found that we could map portfolios with more than 40 million locations
using Bing Maps, SQL Server 2008, and our own software.”
Improved productivity for analysts. Users can dynamically interact with data through an intuitive interface to build customised reports on demand. “With ImpactOnDemand reporting tools, our clients and customers can conduct their research
more profitably, concentrating on evaluation of data and implications for clients rather than managing complex data sets,” says Olson.
Enhanced exposure accumulation management. Clients can identify the areas where there is an accumulation of their portfolios using ImpactOnDemand thematic, point, and heat map technology. This gives the users the tools to make underwriting
and reinsurance decisions based on insights into regional risks, for example.
Rapid time to market. The development team found working with Bing Maps technology straightforward. Olson says: “Although our team has a lot of experience in Microsoft technologies, none of us had worked with Bing Maps before. But we found
it easy to use and the online documentation helped us to move forward quickly.”
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